But Hagerty’s win was not always certain. Sethi, a doctor who had moved back Tennessee after time in Massachusetts, had been on the upswing against him the past six weeks or so, surging in polls and picking up endorsements of key U.S. Senators like Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY). Radio host Mark Levin also endorsed Sethi, all fueling energy behind the candidate who portrayed himself as the “real conservative” in the race.
But, then, a Breitbart News investigation uncovered that Sethi’s entire senior campaign team were Never Trump political consultants. His campaign chairman, his campaign manager, and his general consultant all had made a number of disparaging comments about the president. At the same time, two of Trump’s top allies in the U.S. Senate–Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), the freshman senator and top conservative from here in Tennessee–
rode in behind Hagerty, endorsing him, bolstering his credentials over Sethi. Cotton campaigned with Hagerty in Tennessee a couple weeks ago, and Blackburn aggressively campaigned for him statewide after her endorsement. Cotton’s Super PAC blanketed Tennessee airwaves with ads helping Hagerty across the finish line.
While this happened, a vicious ad war hit the airwaves in Tennessee. Video of Sethi defending Obamacare when he was a Massachusetts doctor surfaced, only to be used in campaign ads against him. The political attacks against Blackburn on behalf of Democrat Phil Bredesen in 2018 from Sethi’s allies at nonprofits in Tennessee also resurfaced, still fresh wounds to Republicans in the state. Sethi’s refusal to denounce his colleagues disproved the narrative that he would always stand up against the left, something Blackburn reinforced in an interview with Breitbart News.
At the urging of Cruz, Sethi’s team attempted to frame the attack ads against him as the “establishment” coming after him. It fit Sethi’s pre-crafted narrative of being an outsider crusading in against the vaunted “establishment.” But Hagerty and his team, with the president’s, Cotton’s, and Blackburn’s help, successfully countered this framing with framing of their own: That this was a race between economic nationalist populists and a different establishment, the old guard conservative establishment.
Hagerty spent the majority of the campaign showing off his credentials on battling the Chinese Communist Party, “China is a concern for America and has been for a long time,” he said on
Breitbart News Tonight on Tuesday. “For too many years, we’ve seen administrations both Democrat and Republican look the other way while China has continued to mount its aggression. It’s not until 2016, during that presidential race, did I hear a candidate say he was ready to stand up to China. That was then-candidate Donald Trump. I figured it was time for me to step up and volunteer. I volunteered full time for six months for then-candidate Trump. Then as you know I went in to help seed the cabinet. Then when it came time to talk about what I could do to be helpful President Trump decided to send me to Japan to be the U.S. ambassador there, to be the senior American there, because that is the cornerstone of how we deal with Asia. We have more military based in Japan than anywhere else in the world outside of America. We’re dealing with China. We’re dealing with North Korea. We’re dealing with major threats in that region and China is by far the biggest threat we’re facing. It’s not just economic, it’s militarily and diplomatic as well.”
Then, in the final weeks of the campaign as the coronavirus pandemic receded and the focus shifted to the economic recovery, Hagerty began adding a “Made in America” focus to his message.
As Breitbart News
reported from Clarksville, TN, a couple weeks ago, as Hagerty campaigned with Cotton touring local stores:
In one store, Hagerty asked the shop owner how much of what she sells is made in America–and how much of that stuff is made in Tennessee. She said almost everything in her store was made in America, and nearly half of everything was made in Tennessee. “We’re talking about making ‘made in the USA’ the theme of America again,” Hagerty said.
an interview on election day with Michael Patrick Leahy of the Tennessee Star Report on local radio in Nashville–Leahy is also a Breitbart News contributor–Hagerty echoed the “made in America” message.
“We have to get our economy going back again,” Hagerty said. “And we’ve got to get our supply chains back from China. We can no longer be dependent on China for medical supplies. For antibiotics and high technology. I know where to hit China where it hurts. I want to make Made in the USA the theme of America again.”