Bill Hagerty, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, is running for Senate in Tennessee, according to a Friday afternoon tweet by President Trump. Hagerty is running to replace longtime GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander, who is retiring at the end of his term.
"Tennessee loving Bill Hagerty, who was my Tennessee Victoy Chair and is now the very outstanding Ambassador to Japan, will be running for the U.S. Senate. He is strong on crime, borders & our 2nd A. Loves our Military & our Vets. Has my Complete & Total Endorsement!" Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. Hagerty has not yet formally announced his campaign. The announcement by Mr. Trump comes the day after former Gov. Bill Haslam said he would not run for Senate.
Alexander announced that heat the end of last year.
"The people of Tennessee have been very generous, electing me to serve more combined years as Governor and Senator than anyone else from our state," the 78-year-old Alexander said in a statement. "I am deeply grateful, but now it is time for someone else to have that privilege."
Alexander was elected to the Senate in 2002 and was a member of the chamber's Republican leadership from 2007 to 2012. He is currently the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and is considered a relative moderate within the GOP caucus. He was also consistently popular in Tennessee, winning each of his three elections to the Senate in a landslide.
Tennessee saw what was expected to be a relatively competitive Senate race in 2018 between Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Democrat Phil Bredesen, also a former governor of the state. However, Blackburn won the race handily, by double digits.
Ellee Watson contributed to his report