Former U.S. Ambassador Bill Hagerty officially launched his bid for U.S. Senate Monday, confirming a campaign that he'd been keeping quiet about despite President Donald Trump's announcing it for him in a tweet in July.
Hagerty, a longtime ally of Utah Sen. Mitt Romney and Tennessee's economic and community development commissioner under Gov. Bill Haslam, immediately moved to nationalize the race.
In an official launch video posted online, he said he felt called to act against what he describes as a "threat to Tennessee and to our country by the Democrats' socialist agenda."
Hagerty specifically singled out a group of first-year U.S. representatives — four women of color who call themselves "the squad."
"We must stand up to radical liberals like the squad and their socialist agenda that will deeply damage the America we deeply know and love," he said.
Hagerty seems to be using a page from another Tennessee senator’s playbook — Marsha Blackburn, who last year used similar talking points as President Trump to defeat popular former Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat.
Like Blackburn, Hagerty has the president’s support. In July, Trump said Hagerty had his "complete and total endorsement."
But Hagerty does have Republican opposition, including Nashville trauma surgeon Manny Sethi. Meanwhile, there’s one Democrat so far in the race, attorney James Mackler.
The winner of the race in 2020 will replace retiring U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander.