The Tennessee Senate Republican main could have taken a aggressive flip in its ultimate weeks, however Invoice Hagerty proved that for red-state candidates within the Trump period, there are nonetheless few issues extra beneficial than the endorsement of Donald J. Trump himself.
On Thursday, Mr. Hagerty, 60, who served because the president’s first ambassador to Japan, trounced 14 different candidates within the main to succeed the retiring Senator Lamar Alexander.
The race had tightened in its homestretch, with an upstart candidate, Manny Sethi, driving a wave of grass-roots enthusiasm as he positioned himself as the sector’s true conservative and most dedicated ally of the president, incomes the assist of distinguished conservatives like Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Mr. Sethi, 42, an orthopedic surgeon, had for months attacked Mr. Hagerty for his background in non-public fairness, longtime friendship with Senator Mitt Romney of Utah and assist from the Tennessee Republican institution.
In the long run, it wasn’t sufficient. Mr. Trump had endorsed Mr. Hagerty earlier than he even entered the race. When skepticism arose about Mr. Hagerty’s dedication to the tenets of Trumpism, Mr. Hagerty squelched it just by selling that endorsement much more.
“It’s not as if there was any big philosophical distinction between Hagerty and Manny,” stated Stephanie Chivers, a longtime adviser to Mr. Alexander. “So I actually consider that Trump’s endorsement made the distinction.”
The race was one of many nastiest in latest Tennessee historical past. As budding enthusiasm for Mr. Sethi turned mirrored within the polls, Mr. Hagerty went intensely damaging. His marketing campaign claimed in tv advertisements that Mr. Sethi’s $50 donation to a Democratic candidate by way of ActBlue, a liberal on-line fund-raising platform, was proof that Mr. Sethi couldn’t be trusted to defend the American flag. He constantly mispronounced his opponent’s title as “Set-ee,” as if to remind voters of the doctor’s Indian heritage.
The deceptive assaults went each methods: In an internet advert, Mr. Sethi tried to hyperlink Mr. Hagerty to the Black Lives Matter motion by highlighting his place on the board of a agency that had issued statements in assist of it. He referred to Mr. Hagerty as “Mitt Romney’s man” in advertisements and speeches, whilst Mr. Hagerty made his criticism of the Utah senator clear — a mirrored image of what now counts as a politically damaging assault in Mr. Trump’s Republican Get together.
Mr. Hagerty is unlikely to have bother in November, as polling means that Tennessee stays squarely inside Trump nation. However his doubtless ascension to the Senate is an endpoint of types to the average tenor that has lengthy outlined Tennessee Republicanism, of which Mr. Alexander was among the many final representatives.
“This could be the tip of an period,” stated Keel Hunt, the writer of two books on Tennessee politics.