Nashville attorney and former Army helicopter pilot James Mackler says he is running for the Democratic nomination to represent Tennessee in the U.S. Senate.
Mackler, who spoke at the DeKalb County Democratic Party potluck dinner Thursday evening at the high school, said he wants to challenge incumbent Republican Senator Bob Corker in next year’s general election.
Speaking with WJLE prior to his remarks, Mackler said he suspended his legal career in response to the 9-11 attacks and joined the Army in 2001. “I was practicing law on September 11, 2001 and as a result of the attacks on our country I shut down my law practice. I walked into an Army recruiting station and I volunteered. I went to flight school and learned to fly helicopters and deployed with the 101st Airborne Division as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot. After several years including a combat deployment, I transferred to the JAG Corp where I was a military prosecutor. In that capacity, I mostly prosecuted military sexual assault offenses. I eventually returned to private practice in the Tennessee Air National Guard where I continue to serve and in recent months I resigned from my law practice in order to run this campaign full time,” said Mackler.
Much like when he joined the military, Mackler said he again feels a call to service but of a different kind this time. “I felt a call back to service much like the way I felt after 911 in the sense that I feel something desperately needs to be done to change the direction of this country. Much like I had the courage to join the Army after 911, that experience taught me that when something is important to you and you feel passionate it is worth taking the risks involved trying to make a change,” he continued.
Mackler said the politicians in Washington must put aside their partisan differences and work toward solutions for the people they serve. “The most important thing that needs to be done is that we’ve got to learn, as we learned in the military, that mission accomplishment is our primary goal. Politicians have got to learn to work with one another despite their diverse backgrounds and differences to work for the American people. That is their mission. To improve opportunity for each and every American and that is what is not being done,” he said.
“Senator Corker said, for example, that the substance of the health care bill didn’t even matter that he would vote for whatever party leadership asked him to vote for and that is what he did. Blind obedience to a party crafting secret legislation behind closed doors is exactly what is wrong with the politics in Washington. Cutting Medicaid, reducing benefits, increasing premiums, those things would all be disastrous for rural counties. What we need to do on health care is have a sound discussion on what’s wrong with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and certainly there are things that need to be fixed and then work together to craft those solutions to help every Tennessean”.
As for military spending, Mackler advocates a smarter approach. “ I feel the issue with military spending at this point isn’t the amount of spending, it’s the way we spend our money. I personally observed a lot of wasted money while I was in the military. Certainly we did not always have what we needed when we needed it but that was an allocation problem across the military and not necessarily an overall spending problem. I’ll say this. The idea of cuts to the state department in order to increase funding to the department of defense is a serious mistake. I and I believe most military officers understand the importance of diplomacy both to prevent conflicts and to shorten conflicts and I would not want to see diplomacy be cut in order to give more money to the military particularly when we can improve military effectiveness without necessarily increasing spending,” he said.
Mackler said his campaign is off to a good start and he is being received well across the state. “The campaign is going great. We have experienced support from all over the state both from Democrats, Independents, people who have never been in politics before, and many people who have voted Republican in the past. They are enthusiastic about having a candidate who really stands for accountability and integrity,” he concluded.