MANCHESTER, Tennessee – At about 9 p.m. Dr. Manny Sethi gave his concession speech to several hundred people just down the road from where he grew up in Coffee County, telling supporters three separate times to continue the fight.
With 15 people in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Lamar Alexander, Sethi got about 240,000 votes or 40 percent of the vote against the winner Bill Hagerty with just over 300,000 votes or 50 percent.
Sethi had an impressive list of conservatives endorsing him, from U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, each of whom came to Tennessee on at least two trips to stump for the candidate, to leaders within the state.
Among those at the election night watch event were Dr. Alan Keyes, former Congressman Zach Wamp, State Senator Janice Bowling, former Senator Mae Beavers, former State Representatives Joe Carr and Sheila Butt, State Representatives Jerry Sexton and Iris Rudder, as well as a number of Republican State Executive Committee members including Steve Allbrooks, Jerry Beavers, Lynne Davis, Terri Nicholson, Maryann Parks and Scott Smith and Pastor Dale Walker.
Sethi had an uphill battle with an early endorsement of Hagerty by President Trump, that was followed up by robo calls, tele town halls and endorsements by Trump’s son and Vice President Mike Pence.
With his mother, wife and two children by his side, Sethi congratulated Ambassador Hagerty on his win and then spoke direction to his supporters.
“The race is done now, but the conservative movement moves forward. I need each and every one of you today to continue the fight, to help the party. This fight’s not over.”
Sethi went on to thank his mother and “my best friend in the world,” his wife Maya. Sethi and his wife have been together since they were 16 years old.
“The Lord has a plan for each of us and you’ve got to walk in faith.”
“What we did in this campaign was we took the high road. We didn’t make attacks. We didn’t do any of that. And, I want you tonight, when you go home to feel proud, because look, no one ever thought we’d come this far.”
“We went 12 rounds,” Sethi continued after being interrupted with applause and cheers, “with the establishment folks, but we came up short.”
“But, I want you to know this. I love all of you,” which was met with, “We love you,” in return.
“I am so grateful to you all. And we will continue this fight. God bless you all. Thank you so much,” Sethi concluded as he waved to the crowd, his wife beaming beside him.
Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at The Tennessee Star.