Johnson City Press: Candidate says tariffs hurting America

James Mackler, who is the only Democratic candidate to announce a bid for Tennessee’s seat in the U.S. Senate next year, says President Donald Trump’s policies are harming state residents.

“Our state is feeling the worst of his misguided policies,” the Nashville attorney said Friday. “Rural hospitals are closing, we have an opioid crisis and now with the tariffs, we are seeing economic uncertainty.”

Mackler, who was in Johnson City to speak to the Washington County’s Democratic Party’s State of Franklin Dinner on Saturday, said Tennesseans are looking for someone to represent them in the Senate who will “stand up for them, and stand up to a president” when he is wrong on issues.

“Unequivocally, I believe Donald Trump’s trade war is a disaster,” Mackler said during a stop at the Press. “We need to address these issues in a thoughtful way.”

Mackler is currently the only Democrat running for the seat that will be vacated by U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Republican who is not seeking re-election in 2020. Alexander is a two-term Tennessee governor who has served in the Senate since 2003.

Mackler is a former Army helicopter pilot, who joined the service after the 9/11 attacks, and was deployed with the 101st Airborne Division to Iraq as part of his decade in active duty. He dropped out of the 2018 U.S. Senate race to replace the retiring Republican incumbent, Bob Corker, when former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen decided to run.

Bredesen, who lost that contest to Republican U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn in November, has endorsed Mackler in the 2020 race.

Nashville trauma surgeon Manny Sethi and former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty are the Republicans who have announced bids for the Senate seat.

Mackler said his run for the Senate is a continuation of “finding a way to serve my country.” He said it wasn’t easy for him as a 30-year-old attorney to get a waiver to learn to fly helicopters in the Army.

“My track record of service and sacrifice resonates with many Tennesseans,” Mackler said. “They share my values.”

The Democrat believes his commitment to service to be his great strength, and said his skills as a problem solver is one the reasons Bredesen has endorsed his candidacy.

Mackler said he would be meeting with members of Moms Demand Action during his time in Johnson City to discuss gun violence.

“These are mothers who are fed up with the inaction on gun issues,” Mackler said. “I know we can protect our Second Amendment rights and keep guns out of the wrong hands.”