Tennessee GOP Congressman Phil Roe (R-Johnson City/Kingsport) announced over the weekend that he will not seek re-election later this year. The move is not surprising in that Mr. Roe pledged to only serve five terms when he was first elected in 2008. He ran again in 2018 because he said he still had unfinished work to complete as chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. When the Democrats gained the majority, however, Rep. Roe was obviously relegated to the ranking minority member position.
The 1st District is solidly Republican, as the last Democrat to carry this eastern Tennessee seat was elected in 1878. Upon Rep. Roe’s retirement announcement, former Kingsport Mayor John Clark (R) declared his own congressional candidacy. A crowded Republican primary is expected, the winner from which will claim the seat in November.
Yesterday’s impeachment inquiry vote saw only two members, both Democrats, buck the party line. Four members, however, did not vote, but all had reasons for not attending the session that had nothing to do with President Trump. Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA) was absent for health reasons. William Timmons (R-SC) was on military assignment with his Army Reserve unit. Jody Hice (R-GA) was tending to family matters with the passing of his father. It is unclear why Rep. John Rose (R-TN) was not present for the vote. Rep McEachin would have been a yes vote for the inquiry, while the three Republicans were sure “noes.”
US Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty, armed with President Trump’s endorsement, officially announced his US Senate candidacy in hopes of succeeding retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R). So far, most of the notable Republican players are yielding to Mr. Hagerty, though he does face physician Manny Sethi in the GOP primary. The Democrats look to be coalescing behind Iraq War veteran James Mackler. At this point, Mr. Hagerty is opening as a heavy favorite in the Republican primary and for the general election.
It appears that Tennessee Republicans are beginning to seriously coalesce behind Ambassador Bill Hagerty to succeed retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R). Yesterday two-term Rep. David Kustoff (R-Germantown) said he would not enter the statewide race and will presumably seek re-election to the House. The only serious Republican candidate other than Mr. Hagerty, who has yet to formally announce, is Nashville surgeon Manny Sethi. For the Democrats, attorney and Iraq War veteran James Mackler has the early field all to himself.
This race is slow to develop, but Tennessee features a long primary season. The candidate filing deadline is April 2nd with an August 6th partisan primary date.
Democrats are in the House majority, and they are also seeing a wide lead in primary challenges to their current incumbents. Another announcement was made yesterday that likely takes the Democratic primary number to 28 as compared to the Republicans’ three. The 28 races feature candidates of some prominence are challenging the incumbent Congressman.
Yesterday, former Shelby County Democratic Party chairman and US Navy Reserve officer Corey Strong says he will challenge Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis). The Congressman has been an anomaly in this district. A 61% African American district, Mr. Cohen, who is white, won the seat in 2006 when the African Americans split their votes among too many candidates. That pattern continued in subsequent elections until Mr. Cohen solidified his support. Now, however, he has drawn an African American opponent, and if the challenger can solidify the black vote behind him, this could become a serious campaign. The Tennessee primary isn’t until August 6th, so this contest has much time to develop.
Now that former two-term Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and freshman Rep. Mark Green (R-Clarksville) will not pursue US Senate campaigns, speculation is building as to who might. Now expected to join the Republican Senate field is US Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty. The strongest GOP candidate in the race so far appears to be surgeon Manny Sethi. The top Democrat is attorney and Iraq War veteran James Mackler. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) is retiring after three terms.
After months of stringing Tennessee politicos along, former two-term Gov. Bill Haslam yesterday announced that he would not run for the state’s open Senate seat next year. Perhaps more surprisingly, the man thought to be entering the race if Haslam did not, freshman Rep. Mark Green (R-Clarksville), also said that he will not run for the Senate, choosing to seek re-election from his safe Republican western Tennessee House district.
At this point, Republicans have no major Senate candidate to replace retiring incumbent Lamar Alexander (R), but that will soon change now that Haslam has finally made his intentions known. Currently, the most credible Republican is surgeon Manny Sethi, while the Democrats look to be lining up behind attorney and Iraq War veteran James Mackler.
Yesterday, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke (D) said he will not pursue the Democratic nomination in next year’s August Senate primary election. Meanwhile, Republicans are still awaiting former Gov. Bill Haslam’s decision about whether he will again become a statewide candidate. After postponing publicizing his decision for now a third time, Mr. Haslam promises a candidate decision “within two or three weeks.”
The Republican potential field has been frozen awaiting word from the former two-term Governor. But, the seat is expected to remain safely in Republican hands after veteran incumbent Lamar Alexander (R) indicated that he will not run for a fourth term next year.
Though Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) announced that he would not seek re-election back in December, no Republican had yet come forward to announce his or her candidacy. That has now changed. Dr. Manny Sethi, a surgeon who co-authored medical books with former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), announced his candidacy yesterday.
Former Gov. Bill Haslam (R) had frozen the GOP field. He is reported to be still contemplating running, and now says he will make a decision sometime in the next few weeks. Originally, the ex-Governor, who left office in January after being ineligible to seek a third term, said he would decide in April. Attorney James Mackler is the lone Democrat in the race. Once the Republican field solidifies, the party’s eventual nominee will become the favorite to hold the seat.
Triton Research, polling for the Tennessee Star news site (4/13-16; 1,003 TN likely Republican primary voters), finds that former Gov. Bill Haslam is not quite a lock for the open Republican nomination as many believe. No Republican, including Mr. Haslam, has yet announced their candidacy.
According to Triton, while President Trump boasts an 88% positive rating among Republicans with Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R) at 76% and new Gov. Bill Lee (R) at 73.5%, Mr. Haslam only polls 49% favorability. And, in a hypothetical pairing with freshman Rep. Mark Green (R-Clarksville), the former two-term state chief executive would lead only 39-30%. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) is retiring.
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