NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican Bill Hagerty has won the U.S. Senate seat in Tennessee being vacated by retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander.
The former U.S. ambassador to Japan under President Donald Trump rode the president’s endorsement to a win against Democrat Marquita Bradshaw.
During a victory party alongside Gov. Bill Lee, Sen. Marsha Blackburn and other Tennessee Republicans, Hagerty said Trump told him in a phone call that he was “very happy with the results in Tennessee.”
“Tonight, Tennesseans have proven that democracy still works and they have made their choice,” Hagerty said in his speech. “Socialism will not stand in America. Let’s let freedom ring.”
Republicans have held both Senate seats in Tennessee since 1994. Trump remained popular enough in the state that Hagerty mentioned the president at every turn in his contested primary and the general election campaign. Hagerty is a Nashville businessman who sits on the board of a private investment firm. He served as the economic development commissioner for former Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.
Bradshaw used a shoestring budget to upset a well-funded establishment candidate in the Democratic primary. That surprise win offered voters a stark contrast between the Black activist and Hagerty, who resigned from the board of a brokerage firm because the company expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Bradshaw, 46, has said she has been “one job away from middle class and one job-loss away from poverty.” Her roots in environmental justice activism go back to her parents’ advocacy to close an Army depot where waste disposal contaminated soil and groundwater, sickening residents in their neighborhood.
Hagerty commended Bradshaw on her run.
“You’ve broken significant barriers here in Tennessee,” Hagerty said. “You serve as a role model.”