NASHVILLE, Tennessee–Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty announced on Monday that he is a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2020 general election to replace retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN).
Hagerty’s announcement comes more than a month after President Trump tweeted his endorsement of Hagerty as his choice to replace Alexander in the U.S. Senate, and just a few weeks after the former ambassador’s resignation from his diplomatic post became official:
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
“Serving in President Trump’s administration was the honor of a lifetime, but when I saw the threat to Tennessee and our country from the Democrats’ socialist agenda, I felt called to act,” Hagerty said in the statement of his announcement released by his campaign.
“We must stand up to radical liberals like The Squad and their liberal socialist agenda that would deeply damage the America we know and love. With President Trump’s support, I’m ready to fight for your family in the U.S. Senate,” Hagerty continued.
“In the coming months, we’re going to be working hard and traveling to every corner of our beautiful state to earn your trust. If you’re looking for a conservative family man with real experience, who will stand with President Trump, we’re running this campaign for you,” Hagerty concluded.
Hagerty’s campaign released this YouTube video of his announcement on Monday morning.
In the video, Hagerty elaborated on the threat posed by the socialist agenda of the Squad and other radical Democrats.
“Their aim is to deliver more government, more crippling debt, and less freedom for my children and yours,” Hagerty said.
President Trump’s endorsement of Hagerty, a successful investment banker who was raised in Tennessee, graduated from Vanderbilt, and served as Commissioner of Economic and Community Development in the administration of former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, is expected to carry great weight among Tennessee’s Republican primary voters.
Trump easily won the state over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election by a 60 percent to 34 percent margin, and he has an extraordinarily high 88 percent job approval rating among likely Tennessee Republican primary voters.
Hagerty is also expected to have significantly more financial resources available to his campaign than any of his primary opponents. He is personally wealthy and an expert fundraiser, as his success as a fundraiser for both the 2012 Mitt Romney presidential campaign and 2016 Donald Trump presidential campaign attest.
But Hagerty’s path to the Republican nomination will not be without opposition.
Dr. Manny Sethi, a Vanderbilt University emergency room surgeon, announced his candidacy in June, and has vigorously campaigned across the state. Sethi’s campaign announced in July that he had raised $1.5 million in the second quarter of 2019. Of that amount, however, $1 million came in the form of a personal loan to the campaign.
Hagerty is expected to begin his own energetic campaign to introduce himself to Republican primary voters across the state starting this week.