Trump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid
September 4, 2020
President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE announced Friday that Bill Hagerty, who currently serves as ambassador to Japan, will run for the open Tennessee Senate seat next year to replace Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderState, city education officials press Congress for more COVID-19 funds Hillicon Valley: Senators raise concerns over government surveillance of protests | Amazon pauses police use of its facial recognition tech | FBI warns hackers are targeting mobile banking apps Republicans prepare to punt on next COVID-19 relief bill MORE (R).
“Tennessee loving Bill Hagerty, who was my Tennessee Victoy Chair and is now the very outstanding Ambassador to Japan, will be running for the U.S. Senate. He is strong on crime, borders & our 2nd A. Loves our Military & our Vets. Has my Complete & Total Endorsement!” Trump tweeted.
Tennessee loving Bill Hagerty, who was my Tennessee Victoy Chair and is now the very outstanding Ambassador to Japan, will be running for the U.S. Senate. He is strong on crime, borders & our 2nd A. Loves our Military & our Vets. Has my Complete & Total Endorsement!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2019
Alexander, a 79-year-old three-term senator, announced in December that he will not run for reelection in 2020. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding Hagerty’s candidacy.
Sources familiar with the conversation told The Hill that Alexander and Sen. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnGOP senators introduce resolution opposing calls to defund the police GOP senators dodge on treatment of White House protesters Five things to know about Trump’s legal power under the Insurrection Act MORE (R-Tenn.) worked together with the White House and talked with the president and his closest advisers this week to encourage Hagerty’s run.
Before serving overseas, Hagerty worked as director of presidential appointments for the 2016 Trump Presidential Transition Team, served on former President George H.W. Bush’s Council on Competitiveness and was commissioner for Tennessee’s Department of Economic and Community Development. He also worked for years in the private sector and co-founded a private equity investment firm.
As ambassador, he helped facilitate several high-profile White House trips to Japan, including Trump’s attendance at last month’s Group of 20 summit.
The announcement of his candidacy comes a day after two other prominent Tennessee Republicans, former Gov. Bill Haslam and Rep. Mark GreenMark GreenIf anyone has taken US-China relations to the brink of a new cold war, it’s the Chinese Communist Party Scalise blasts Democrats for calling on certain companies to return PPP loans Scalise targets China, WHO response from coronavirus oversight perch MORE, declared they would not run to replace Alexander.
Hagerty will have to face orthopedic trauma surgeon Manny Sethi in the primary race for the GOP nomination. Rep. David KustoffDavid Frank KustoffLobbying world Trump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan’s Tennessee Senate bid GOP to launch discharge petition on anti-BDS measure MORE (R) and former Rep. Stephen FincherStephen Lee FincherTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan’s Tennessee Senate bid Lamar Alexander’s exit marks end of an era in evolving Tennessee Tensions on immigration erupt in the House GOP MORE (R) have also floated runs of their own.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill regarding Hagerty’s candidacy.
James Mackler, who ditched a run for the Senate last year, is the only Democrat thus far to officially declare his intention to fill Alexander’s seat.
The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, rates the race as “Likely Republican.”
Trump won Tennessee by more than 26 points in 2016. In last year’s election to replace Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerGOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism Trump asserts his power over Republicans Romney is only GOP senator not on new White House coronavirus task force MORE (R), Blackburn defeated former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) by nearly 11 points.