Tennessee GOP Senator Bill Hagerty, who served as the ambassador to Japan under former President Donald Trump, endorsed his former boss’ candidacy over the weekend, joining fellow Volunteer State Sen. Marsha Blackburn.
Three other members of the House of Representatives also endorsed Trump: Reps. John Rose and Diana Harshbarger from Tennessee and Florida Rep. Greg Steube.
Trump, who is one of two announced candidates for the GOP nomination along with former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, has also been endorsed by 38 other members of the House — 184 Republicans have yet to declare.
Hagerty joins eight other senators who have endorsed Trump, including Blackburn, Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, Missouri Sen. Eric Schmitt, North Carolina Sen. Ted Budd, Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, Oklahoma Sen. Markwayne Mullin, and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. Forty GOP senators have yet to declare.
In recent decades in which Republicans were not in possession of the White House and so primaries were necessary to determine their presidential candidate, the primaries generally featured a bevy of candidates being whittled down to four or even two candidates facing off mano-a-mano.
In 2000, although, conservative activist Gary Bauer, businessman Steve Forbes, Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander, former Secretary of Labor Elizabeth Dole, Alan Keyes, and former Vice President Dan Quayle threw their hats in the ring, the race ended with then-Texas Governor George W. Bush facing off with Senator John McCain for the nomination. After Bush’s Super Tuesday victories on March 7 in California, New York, and the South, McCain suspended his campaign. Bush thus cemented his nomination early, then won the general election to become president.
In 2012, candidates included Texas Governor Rick Perry, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr., Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer, Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Congressman Ron Paul, and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. The field got whittled down to Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, and Paul. Santorum left the race in April, Gingrich in early May, while Paul kept trying to win delegates at state conventions. Romney surpassed a majority of bound delegates on June 5, finally cementing his nomination. He lost in the general election.
In 2016, the wide-open field included a whopping 17 candidates. After Senator Ted Cruz won the Iowa caucuses, Trump won the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries. By March 16, 2016, only three candidates remained in the race: Trump, Cruz, and Ohio Governor John Kasich. On May 26, Trump passed the threshold of 1,237 delegates required to guarantee his nomination. He later defeated Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton.