TN Senate Candidates weigh in on critical issues ahead of Election Day

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tennessee has one of the 35 open senate seats up for grabs this election season.

Republican Bill Hagerty and Democrat Marquita Bradshaw are vying for the open seat, and they’ve been crisscrossing the state campaigning.

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Underdog Democratic candidate Marquita Bradshaw is already making history as the first Black woman in Tennessee to run for U.S. Senate on a major party ticket. She’s a Memphian who shocked many when she won the August primaries.

She voted with her mother and son on the last day of early voting in Shelby County Thursday.

If elected, Bradshaw said her plan for combatting the COVID-19 pandemic starts with more access to healthcare for everyone.

“So they don’t have to go to a big bill when they go to the hospital and so people can feel safe and secure and get themselves checked out because that’s the only way we can get past a pandemic is if everybody has healthcare,” said Bradshaw.

Republican Bill Hagerty is a businessman and President Donald Trump’s former ambassador to Japan. Hagerty told FOX13 his approach focuses on the vaccine. He said he’s optimistic about the progress of Operation Warp Speed.

“FedEx is going to play a crucial role vaccine, not only in around America, across America but across the global so I’m very optimistic about the role we will play,” said Hagerty. “Vaccine production is already being ramped up and I think we’ll be in a very good position to get that moving as soon as we get approval.”

The economy, while still struggling, is starting to bounce back after COVID-19 closures all across Tennessee.

Hagerty believes America will be able to recover quickly. Based on his experience with the state’s department of economic and community development, Hagerty believes Tennessee will be at the forefront of this recovery.

“As we do that we need to bring jobs on shore and I think Tennessee will benefit tremendously from that because we have a great business climate, a great location, conservative values here that are attractive to the business community and we’re working very hard to get our workforce trained,” said Hagerty.

Bradshaw said evidence shows washing your hands, wearing a mask and social distancing are the most effective way to reopen businesses safely. As an environmental activist, Bradshaw said tackling pollution is also part of her plans.

“We cannot continue to have industries that are based on pollution and pain. Rght now we have workers that are forced to go to work because they have to have food on the table, they have to have a roof over their head and they’re forced to pollute their communities at the same time, that’s not freedom and that’s not what freedom looks like,” she said.

On the issue of improving race relations, Bradshaw said as a black woman in this race, she is already breaking the glass ceiling for the state. She said she would bring more representation to DC.

“Right now, we need representation when it comes to racial disparities in all aspects of policy, it happens in every aspect of the American fabric and I have the courage to know I can go to Washington dc and I can work with people who want to put that in our past and create punitive measures that would change our behaviors, beliefs and attitudes,” said Bradshaw.

Hagerty said the nation needs law and order.

“What we need to do is root out racism wherever it exists. If there are bad apples, Tim Scott’s law allows us to address that, we should deal with that. We should also use training and we should also use resources to make certain our law enforcement officers are properly equipped,” he said.

Bradshaw will host a watch party in Memphis and Hagerty will be in Williamson County on Election Night.