Dr. Manny in Rogersville

U.S. Senate candidate Manny Sethi, a trauma surgeon, talks to Hawkins County Republicans during a recent campaign stop at Occasions on the Square in downtown Rogersville.

By Hank Haye, Kingsport Times News

ROGERSVILLE — With early voting underway, TV attack ads are airing in the rivalry between Tennessee Republican U.S. Senate frontrunners Bill Hagerty and Manny Sethi.

Hagerty’s ad goes after the Nashville trauma surgeon by claiming he supported an organization bankrolling Black Lives Matter protests around the country plus a $50 donation Sethi made in 2008 to an organization called ActBlue. The organization describes itself as an “online fundraising platform for Democratic candidates up and down the ballot.”

“This is what happens when you take on the establishment,” Sethi said of Hagerty’s ad during a campaign stop at Occasions on the Square. “When you take on folks like Bill Hagerty, special interests and the mob, they’re going to come for you, brother.”

Sethi’s counter attack ad points to Hagerty’s donations to former presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Al Gore and a claim that Hagerty’s company made millions of dollars from implementing Common Core in public schools.

When asked about that claim, Sethi said Hagerty was the CEO or on the board of education services company Houghton Mifflin and made that money selling Common Core books.

“This is what the establishment does,” Sethi said. “You can’t go out there attacking Common Core and making millions of dollars off of Common Core.”

In a response to Sethi’s attack ad, Hagerty campaign spokesman Abigail Sigler said: “Of course, Bill worked to defeat Barack Obama in 2012, unlike Massachusetts Manny Sethi, who applied to be in the Obama-Biden White House. Manny Sethi’s Never Trumpers have been attacking Bill since the day President Trump endorsed and announced his run for Senate. President Trump looked at all the candidates in this race, and he endorsed Bill because he trusts Bill to stand with him to protect conservative values, get our economy going again, hold China accountable and stand up for life.”

Sethi told Hawkins County Republicans the Washington Republican establishment won’t stand up to the “mob” that is rioting and looting.

“They won’t take them on,” Sethi insisted.

He also pointed out that masks and drugs to offset the coronavirus are made in China. “Those jobs (in China) need to come back to America,” Sethi noted.

Early on during his campaign stop, Sethi concluded: “You can’t win a Senate race or any statewide race without winning in East Tennessee. I feel so at home here.”

Early voting in the August Republican primary has begun.