2020 Election Live Updates: Biden Will Accept Nomination in Delaware, Skipping Milwaukee Convention

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On July 25, Republicans in Grundy County, Tenn., gathered to hear the candidates in the state’s Senate Republican primary hold forth ahead of Thursday’s election. Most of them kept their comments polite and predictable — and then came Bill Hagerty.

Though there are 15 names on the ballot, Mr. Hagerty, the race’s Trump-endorsed front-runner, singled out his main opponent, Manny Sethi, with an attack-filled tirade, claiming the Mr. Sethi, an orthopedic surgeon, had an “abysmal” record of supporting the Trump agenda and a soft spot for “socialized medicine.”

Amid a chorus of boos from Mr. Sethi’s supporters, Bill Lee, the governor of Tennessee, who has remained publicly neutral in the race, nudged Zach Wamp, a former congressman from the area. “Have you ever seen anything like this?” he asked.

“No,” Mr. Wamp, who has endorsed Mr. Sethi, recalled, responding, “I haven’t.”

Mr. Hagerty, a former private-equity executive who served as Mr. Trump’s first ambassador to Japan, was long considered a shoo-in to replace Lamar Alexander, a much-admired former governor who has served in the Senate since 2003. But Mr. Sethi has run an insurgent-style campaign, casting Mr. Hagerty as insufficiently Trumpian and pulling within a few percentage points of the lead — a sudden turn that has pushed the race in an intensely negative direction, with both candidates accusing the other of such sins as supporting the Black Lives Matter movement or being friends with Senator Mitt Romney of Utah.

The increasingly toxic primary, in a state once known for its genteel politics, highlights the transformation of the Republican Party since Mr. Alexander first captured this seat nearly two decades ago. Whereas Mr. Alexander, 80, centered his first Senate primary message on electoral experience and education policy, his would-be successors have defined their pitches almost entirely in terms of Donald Trump — campaigning not on ideas and vision but on a blanket promise to support the president, and to spurn those who cross him.

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