Bill Hagerty, who stepped down in July as ambassador to Japan, announced his campaign for Senate in Tennessee on Monday.
He’s running with the support of President Donald Trump, which has helped clear the GOP field for him in a state where the president remains popular with the Republican base. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the general election Solid Republican. GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander is not running for fourth term.
“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 a statement Monday.
“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,” he added. The Squad is a nickname for a group of four progressive freshman House Democratic women of color.
Trump endorsed Hagerty two months ago, when Hagerty was still a U.S. ambassador and hadn’t yet publicly committed to running. Hagerty was expected to run after former Gov. Bill Haslam announced in July that he would not to seek the seat. A former private equity executive, Hagerty had served in Haslam’s cabinet.
Democrat James Mackler, a Nashville attorney and Iraq War veteran, is already running. In 2017, Mackler challenged then-Sen. Bob Corker but he bowed out of the race once Corker announced he wouldn’t seek reelection and former Gov. Phil Bredesen entered the race.