Georgiana Vines: Mackler runs for U.S. Senate as Democrat

Georgiana Vines, Knoxville News Sentinel, Special to the USA TODAY NETWORK

Oct. 9, 2017

Tennessee – James Mackler, a Nashville attorney and Iraqi war veteran who is a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate, seems undaunted by the recent decision of incumbent Republican Bob Corker not to seek a third term and the apparent focus on which Republican will seek the post.

His full-time job — since announcing in the spring before Corker made his announcement on Sept. 26 — has been to campaign by spending time across the state raising money and meeting with supporters and Democratic groups, he said.

“I tell my kids doing something right is not easy,” he said.

Mackler was interviewed Thursday afternoon after Gov. Bill Haslam announced he would not seek the GOP nomination to succeed Corker and U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn said she would. He and his campaign manager, Dave Hoffman, knew it when they walked in the door of Pete’s café on Union Avenue for the 1:30 p.m. interview.

Hoffman later issued a statement that was stronger than anything said at Pete’s.

“James Mackler, a man who closed his law practice to enlist in the Army after 9/11 and six months (ago) resigned from his job to take on Bob Corker when nobody else would, is exactly what Tennesseans need to lead us in our fight against Congresswoman Blackburn’s extreme agenda,” he said.

Mackler, who was deployed as a helicopter pilot to Iraq in 2005 for one year, said he learned from that experience how “tribal” and divided the Middle Eastern country is. He is concerned about the division in the U.S. and wishes elected officials would show more “servant leadership,” a philosophy in which a person serves but shares power by working closely with others.

Take the issue of health care, which is one of three issues that Mackler said he focuses on, and finds that Tennesseans are interested in.

Individuals in Congress should stop worrying about getting credit for revamping the federal program, he said.

“They should start working with an entire team so they can create a solution,” he said.

The other two issues are education and jobs, and they are related, he said.

“On jobs, Nashville and Knoxville are doing very well. Still, people across the state aren’t. A clear way (to fix problems) is to make investments in infrastructure and education,” he said.

Mackler said after he returned from Iraq with three years’ experience as a Blackhawk pilot, he decided to reconnect with his community and faith, which is Jewish. In attending The Temple Congregation Ohabai Sholom in Nashville, he and a new young rabbi there connected and married. Rabbi Shana Goldstein Mackler and James Mackler now have two daughters, Hannah, 7, and Sylvie, 6.

Mackler, 45, practiced law in Nashville until he began campaigning. While in the service, he was with the Army’s judge advocate general (JAG) corps. He’s also served five years on a federal public defender panel.

Mackler and Hoffman said the candidate has raised $750,000, which will be reflected in a report due Oct. 15. In the quarterly report filed in July, Mackler’s campaign reported he had raised $451,391, spent $195,831 and had $255,559 available.

Knoxville contributors included lawyer Terry Adams, $500; lawyers Amanda Busby, Sidney Gilreath and John Rice, $250 each, and legal writer Don Daugherty.

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