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Outsider Senate candidate Dr. Manny Sethi builds momentum with Cruz endorsement

By Scott Wheeler and Josh Wilson

Manny Sethi, MD is a Tennessee surgeon and top contender for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat to replace retiring Lamar Alexander. Sethi, a political novice, is the son of immigrants from India and says that he is the “product of the American dream in Tennessee.”

An orthopedic surgeon, Sethi says on his website that the reason he is running for Senate is that he wants to make a difference:

“The American Dream I have lived is in great peril and I want to fight and keep it alive. For too long career politicians in Washington have said one thing and done the other while people in places like Coffee County, and the rest of Tennessee pay the price for a government that is out of touch with its own citizens. Whether it is fixing healthcare, cutting runaway spending, stopping illegal immigration, or ending the opioid epidemic, I believe President Trump needs a trauma surgeon in the Senate who can act decisively for his patient, the people of Tennessee.”

The field for the Republican nomination is crowded but Sethi is running strong and has picked up some key endorsements.

“I am going to endorse you for the U.S. Senate in the Republican Primary…. If I lived there, I’d be voting for you. That’s the bottom line,” said Mark Levin on his nationally syndicated radio talk show in an interview with Sethi.

U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have also punched the ticket for Sethi, whose chief competition in the primary is what critics consider a “weak” Republican.

Bill Hagerty, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, was endorsed by President Trump over a year ago, but Sethi says that he will be more loyal to the Trump agenda than Hagerty.

Sethi told CNN last month that Hagerty is a “Washington insider” and a “Mitt Romney Republican,” referring to the senator from Utah who many conservatives believe has undermined Trump.

“They don’t want Mitt Romney’s best friend in the U.S. Senate,” Sethi said.

Hagerty is extremely close to Romney and took unpaid leave back in 2012 to campaign with him during the presidential election. In 2016 he went on to support Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio before finally supporting Trump. Hagerty was able to raise more than a million dollars for the Trump campaign which likely bought him his ambassadorship in Japan.

Although Hagerty helped raise money for Trump’s campaign, he also sided with McCain in 2016 during his very public feud with candidate Trump. He maxed out giving contributions to the senator’s PAC. Hagerty had previously served on McCain’s presidential transition team in 2008.

“Hagerty has spent millions recreating himself to try to fool Tennessee Republicans about himself. He’s a McConnell RINO with strong ties to Romney. He should never have been appointed ambassador to Japan. Sending him to the Senate would be a huge mistake,” Levin tweeted.

Recently Sethi took on another establishment figure, longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci:

“This COVID crisis, this pandemic, it’s real, it’s serious… But this guy Fauci, I’ve had about enough of this guy. And I think maybe, it’s time for the president to bring him into the board room and say, ‘You’re fired,'” the daily Tennessean newspaper reported.

Sethi’s dispute with Fauci stems from Sethi’s belief that the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine may help COVID-19 patients, whereas Fauci has downplayed the use of the drug in the fight against the pandemic.

“It’s not a silver bullet, but this is a drug that was prescribed five million times last year and is on the WHO list of 40 most essential medicines,” said Sethi, arguing that whether the drug is effective or not, social media companies should not be censoring discussion of its use.

The Tennessee primary election will be determined on August 6.

PHOTO: Max Gersh / The Commercial Appeal

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