Senate candidate

Tennessee Republican Party Executive Committee member Larry Hillis (left) of Dickson, talks with U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Manny Sethi (center) and Dickson County Republican Party Chairman Jay Peeler a few minutes before Sethi spoke at an event last Wednesday. SEAN BARRY

Dickson resident Larry Hillis, a member of the Tennessee Republican Party’s State Executive Committee, is backing Dr. Manny Sethi in the race for U.S. Senate.

Hillis said that his endorsement was personal, not on behalf of the state party committee, where he works for all Republicans.

Sethi, who called Donald Trump “the greatest president of our lifetime” at a campaign appearance in Dickson on June 16, faces a crowded field in the Republican primary election in August.

Fifteen Republicans are seeking the party’s nomination for the seat, according to the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office. In the Democratic primary, five candidates are running in hopes of getting on the general election ballot in November. Plus, there are nine independents.

The 29 candidates, none of them Dickson County residents, are looking to fill the seat being vacated by Republican Lamar Alexander, the former two-term governor first elected to the Senate in 2002.

Among Sethi’s opponents in the primary, there are other pro-Trump Christian conservatives. That group includes Bill Hagerty of Nashville, who has Trump’s endorsement, and Byron Bush of Brentwood.

Sethi, a Vanderbilt University Medical Center trauma surgeon who graduated from Harvard University Medical School, is campaigning as “Dr. Manny.”

“I wholeheartedly endorse Dr. Manny for U.S. Senate,” Hillis said in an email promoting last week’s appearance. Dozens of people turned out to hear Sethi last week.

Sethi’s parents, both of them doctors, moved to the United States from India before Sethi was born. Sethi grew up in rural Coffee County between Nashville and Chattanooga.

Speaking at the Dickson event, Sethi emphasized that his parents emigrated legally. He said he supports Trump’s push to build the southern border wall.

He said he wants to end birthright citizenship for children of illegal immigrants, and favors a merit-based system for legal immigration.

Sethi is campaigning as an outsider, telling the audience at the Holland Park event: “I owe the establishment nothing.”

His campaign website says he is pro-life and pro-Second Amendment.

He is the founder of Healthy Tennessee, a non-profit organization designed to promote preventative health care across the state.

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