Manny Sethi and Bill Hagerty may be the most well-known candidates to replace Lamar Alexander, but they are far from the only ones. The downtown Pachyderm Club provided a platform for some of the lesser-known senatorial candidates in the 2020 race. Aaron Pettigrew, Roy Dale Cope and Jon Henry all told the club why they are the best man for the job.
Jon Henry, a former Marine of almost 30 years and currently a farmer, believes one of the most pressing issues is how the United States operates in the Middle East.
“I like to tell people I’ve been executing foreign policy for 27 and a half years,” said Mr. Henry, who then talked briefly about his experience in Iraq. “It worked out great for us, and it’s the way war should be fought. I served in Iraq twice, and I think we should still have a small footprint in Iraq. But my problem is where we’re at in Afghanistan.”
“We’ve been in Afghanistan for going on 20 years. So my question I ask people is how long are we going to stay in Afghanistan. I served under five presidents and this is the first one who is trying to get us out of there. There are young Tennesseans, young men and women, who are going to Afghanistan. We had two troops killed last month and it didn’t even make the news. That’s how on the back burner it is, and that’s not how war is supposed to be fought.”
He emphasized how he came from a small town in Tennessee, and vowed to fight against “big government,” an entity he said has over-regulated the farming industry. He also promised to fight against trade deals such as NAFTA, which he views as unfavorable for small-town America.
“When NAFTA was signed in the early 90s, back where I was from had a sock, boot, and shirt factory,” said Mr. Henry. “It was a place you could work 40 hours a week, go home on the weekend, play soccer or football with the kids, and it was nice and quiet. NAFTA sucked those communities dry, because we need to outsource so America can have cheaper products, right? Well it came at the cost of small-town America.”
Roy Dale Cope, a Hamilton County resident who is also a former U.S. Navy veteran and a commissioned officer of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corp., said his top priority is giving Tennesseans a way to get affordable healthcare.
“I’m not the choice for special interests, and I’m not running to be theirs. I’m fighting to be yours’,” said Mr. Cope. “As a pharmacist with a diverse background in business I understand the language and terminology in order to craft legislation that’s going to put pharmacy benefits at the counter. What does that mean? I’ll be free to do what is right by Tennesseans, and free without having to owe anyone anything.”
“Too many people don’t have health insurance because they can’t afford the premiums, so that’s why we see Tennessee as the second-leading state in the nation that is having their hospitals go out of business,” said Mr. Cope. “That’s wrong. Why is that? Because we do not have health insurance that is adequate and takes care of us, so they go to the ER room. It’s not just our rural hospitals, because we’re also looking at Erlanger.”
Aaron Pettigrew, a truck driver who learned the Constitution in his fleeting spare time, told the Pachyderm Club that he considers himself a Constitutionalist rather than a Republican. He pointed to his real-world experience as a major reason to vote for him.
“You have to be willing to stand up for (what is written in) that Constitution and the declaration of independence,” said Mr. Pettigrew. “I’m here to fight for you. I’m running for Tennessee and I’m running to uphold the Constitution. My job is 70 hours a week, and that’s not counting the parts I don’t log. I’ve studied the Constitution for well over eight years, and I’ve also been watching and listening to all of these excuses these politicians make for doing the right thing for us.”
“If I have time to do that, not at home, not in an office somewhere, but on the road, why can’t our politicians do it too? I can sit there and look through a website on my smartphone and figure out $16 billion in government waste in a few minutes, why isn’t somebody doing something about it? It doesn’t matter if they’re Republican or Democrat, even though, yes, I am a Republican.”