President Donald Trump on Friday tweeted his endorsement of Bill Hagerty, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, for the open Senate seat in Tennessee, likely limiting what could have been a crowded GOP field for the seat.
Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander is not running for fourth term.
Trump carried the Volunteer State by 26 points in 2016, and he remains popular enough among GOP voters that a contested primary would likely have hinged on who appeared to be most loyal to the president. In the minds of primary voters, Trump may have just answered that question with this early endorsement.
Hagerty has not yet announced his campaign. But he’s been expected to run, especially after former Gov. Bill Haslam announced Thursday that he would not to seek the seat. A former private equity executive, Hagerty had served in Haslam’s cabinet.
“Tennessee loving Bill Hagerty, who was my Tennessee Victoy [sic] Chair and is now the very outstanding Ambassador to Japan, will be running for the U.S. Senate,” Trump tweeted. “He is strong on crime, borders & our 2nd A. Loves our Military & our Vets. Has my Complete & Total Endorsement!”