Knox backers help Sethi win county; Trump factor led Hagerty to victory | Victor Ashe


Despite losing statewide in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, Dr. Manny Sethi won Knox County, 22,206 to 20,511. He had two effective supporters in Susan Richardson Williams, former state GOP chair, and Jordan Mollenhour, who is newer to local politics but effective. Much of Sethi’s early success here can be attributed to their energetic efforts. Sethi was not able to take his urban success to more rural areas.

The Trump factor may be debated, but clearly it helped Bill Hagerty win a solid victory. Hagerty, former ambassador to Japan, touted his endorsement from President Donald Trump.

On the Democratic side, the emergence of Marquita Bradshaw as the U.S. Senate nominee stuns everyone. While she is the first Black female U.S. Senate nominee of a major party in Tennessee history, she won on a budget that in one quarter raised only $8,500.

James Mackler, an attorney and military veteran who had been running for two years and raised $2 million, ran third.  He failed to spend any significant amount on television and radio statewide. He assumed falsely that he could save his funds for the general election.

Hagerty now has a cakewalk to the U.S. Senate.

County Commissioner Michele Carringer beat Patti Bounds by a comfortable margin for the Republican nomination to succeed District 16 state Rep. Bill Dunn, after out-of-town PACs threw negative mailers against Bounds. Carringer could have won without them, but she actually praised them for their broadsides against Bounds.

Democratic nominee Elizabeth Rowland had better fasten her seat belt for the November election, as she can expect Carringer to wage similar attacks on her and her past support of economic ties to China. Rowland, unlike Bounds, will have the financial resources to fight back against Carringer.

Had Sam McKenzie not run for the state representative District 15 seat held by Rick Staples, Matthew Park would have defeated Staples in a head-to-head contest. He almost won anyway, and Staples is out, but McKenzie barely managed to win with fewer than 30 votes. With the 2020 Census, the district will change for the 2022 election. Park will be back for some office.

In District 18, Eddie Mannis, businessman and HonorAir founder, won a close contest over Gina Oster for the Republican nomination to succeed Rep. Martin Daniel, with absentee ballots providing the winning margin. Mannis had to fight out-of-county attack pieces and GOP party chair Randy Pace discarding neutrality to blast Mannis.

Mannis kept his cool and prevailed. He now faces Virginia Couch, an attorney, who will likely run on issues and not false attack pieces. District 18 has become a more marginal district which could go to either party.

Mannis’ background and strong support of the University of Tennessee will be high points of his campaign.

Couch will oppose Gov Bill Lee’s anti-abortion legislation and school vouchers.

Grant Rosenberg ran a respectable race against Courtney Durrett for County Commission District 2, but in a strong Democratic district it was not enough. Carringer would likely have lost there had she run for commission instead of state representative.


Aug. 9: UT basketball star Chamique Holdsclaw is 43. Ellen Capito is 71. Businessman Graham Hunter is 73.

Aug. 10: Tina Marshall is 56. Columnist Frank Cagle is 72. Former city vice mayor Jack Sharp is 86 (longest serving Knoxville vice mayor at 14 years). Attorney Jeff Hagood is 60. Former Democratic county mayoral candidate Linda Haney is 73. Nazzy Hashemian is 66. Phil Trotter is 69. Retired attorney and Lakeshore Foundation board member Tom McAdams is 68.

Aug. 11: Federal Express CEO Fred Smith is 76. Jennifer Little is 52. Former Knox County trustee John Duncan III is 40. Monique Anderson is 67.

Aug. 12: Retired Knoxville airport director Bill Marrison is 72. Attorney Jack Tallent is 70. Katharine Pearson-Criss is 74. Steve Drevik is 54. Wayne Blasius is 66. Whitney Heins is 39.

Aug. 13: Former Knoxville first lady Joan Ashe is 70.

Aug. 14: Bill Hagerty is 61. Attorney David Burkhalter is 70. Jon Lawler is 57. Attorney Nathan Rowell is 51. Mary Ellen Brewington is 55.

Aug. 15: City Attorney George Shields is 35. Lee Iglehart and Rich Ray are both 80. Norman Templeton is 59. Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth II, is 70.

Victor Ashe can be reached at


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