Chattanooga Times Free Press: Sohn: James Mackler is the best senate pick now and in November

Chattanooga Times Free Press: Sohn: James Mackler is the best senate pick now and in November

By Pam Sohn

Chattanooga Times-Free Press

July 17, 2020

James Mackler, a Nashville attorney and decorated Iraq War veteran, is the name you should look for and mark for United States Senate on your state Democratic primary and Hamilton County general election ballot.

Mackler, who is seeking to replace the retiring Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, is the best pick not just among five Democratic contenders but also from among the 15 Republican candidates on the GOP primary ballot.

In his opening campaign ad, released Thursday, Mackler promises to “serve all of America” which makes a clear contrast to the leading (but not by much) Republican contender Bill Hagerty’s disqualifying silence about Russian bounties on the heads of American service members.

Mackler introduces himself this way: “After 9/11, I closed my law practice to serve in the 101st Airborne Division flying Black Hawks in Iraq. Now our country faces a new crisis, and I’m asking Tennesseans to let me serve again, in the U.S. Senate, to restore respect, honesty, and integrity to Washington.

“When we came under fire in Iraq, we weren’t Republicans or Democrats, we were Americans working to accomplish a mission,” Mackler continues. “I approve this message because senators have a mission too: to serve all of America.”

Husband, father of two girls and still a member of the Tennessee National Guard, Mackler believes true leaders hold themselves and others accountable. “These are values that I learned serving my country and will continue to carry as your next U.S. Senator,” he writes on his website.

Mackler also ran in 2017 for Bob Corker’s U.S. Senate seat, but he dropped out the week after former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen announced his own candidacy. At the time, Mackler wrote in a statement: “My candidacy for U.S. Senate has never been about me but about service to the country I love. … The political environment has changed as well and we cannot risk any distractions in our fight to defeat Marsha Blackburn’s extreme agenda.”

Blackburn rode Trump’s coattails in very red Tennessee — and now Hagerty hopes to do the same, wrapping himself over and over in a Trump endorsement that came even before Hagerty had formally announced his candidacy.

But Trump’s popularity is sagging. Even in Tennessee.

In a Trafalgar Group poll taken July 6-7 of 1,062 likely GOP voters, Hagerty had the Republican primary lead by only 3.5 percentage points at 42.3% to Nashville trauma surgeon Manny Sethi’s 38.8%. A third candidate, Memphis doctor and businessman George Flinn, was at 3.9%. The survey’s margin of error was stated by the polling firm to be 2.4%.

The tight polling immediately opened a long-simmering feud between Hagerty and Sethi and led to a barrage of charges from each of them, along with television and radio ads. In the ads, each assails the conservative credentials of the other.

That’s great. All the better for the cool-headed Mackler.

In January (a long time ago in politics) FiveThirtyEight listed a Mason-Dixon head-to-head poll showing Mackler down 11% in a would-be general election race against Sethi and down 22% in a race against Hagerty.

Go GOPers. Keep beating each other up and wrapping yourselves in right-wing nonsense, such as Hagerty’s July 4 tweet inviting people to retweet his faked Mount Rushmore photo with Trump’s likeness added to it.

For his part, Mackler did retweet it, along with this added message: “@BillHagertyTN wants to lionize failure to act on #RussianBounty, making TN leader in rural hospital closures/person, botching #COVID-19 response … I’m a combat vet running for #tnsen to serve vs. a rubber stamp for failure.”