Lamar Alexander, the two-term Republican senator from Tennessee, is in a strong position to win reelection this November. But only if he can get through his August 7 primary.
Polling has been scarce in the race between Alexander and his GOP primary challenger, state representative Joe Carr, though the incumbent enjoys advantages in fundraising and name recognition (Alexander twice served as governor in the 1980s). An independent poll in January found Carr down by 40 points.
But with Carr getting somewhat of a boost from endorsements by radio host Laura Ingraham and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, an independent outside group supporting Alexander isn't taking any chances. Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions has a new TV ad running in the Nashville and Knoxville markets that, according to Politico, is a $257,000 buy over the final week and a half of the primary.
The spot refers to Alexander as a "conservative leader" and references unrest in the Middle East and the border crisis. Watch the ad below:
The ad attempts to address the chief argument Carr is making in the primary: that Alexander has been too soft on immigration. The voiceover says Alexander is "working to secure our nation [and] strengthening our borders" before moving on to tout the senator's record on energy.
But Carr and those who oppose Alexander cite his vote for the Senate's Gang of 8 immigration bill as evidence that the Republican incumbent isn't on their side. Alexander defended his vote for the bill in an interview with THE WEEKLY STANDARD last week:
“I voted to end amnesty,” he says. “By doing nothing, you perpetuate amnesty for 11 million people who are here illegally. I voted to double border security, end amnesty for those 11 million people, and create a legal immigration system.”
Tennessee is a conservative state, but there was some indication its residents might have supported Alexander’s vote. In a June 2013 poll sponsored by a pro-immigration-reform organization, 63 percent of respondents from Tennessee said they approved a description of the Gang of 8’s proposed legislation.
Nevertheless, Carr says Alexander’s vote for the reform bill is out of step with the views of most Tennessee voters and an example of how the senator “capitulated” to the Chamber of Commerce. “When both senators are promoting an alternative other than securing the border and the rule of law and advocating for the American worker, vis-à-vis amnesty, then it gives you a distorted picture about what Tennesseans really want,” Carr says. On August 20, 2013, Carr formally entered the primary against Alexander, with the senator’s immigration reform vote chief among his complaints.
Conservatives hoping to oust Alexander have said Carr may be the "next Dave Brat," referring to the Republican primary challenger who successfully defeated House majority leader Eric Cantor in June. Read the whole article here.