Tea party's last chance in 2014 primaries comes down to Tennessee Senate race
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee
August 7th, 2014
08:37 AM ET
6 years ago

Tea party's last chance in 2014 primaries comes down to Tennessee Senate race

(CNN) - The Republican primary in Tennessee on Thursday is the tea party's last chance - albeit a distant one - to beat an establishment incumbent this election year.

Longtime GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander is defending his seat against state Rep. Joe Carr.

Despite picking up endorsements from conservative powerhouse Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Nation, it's an uphill battle for Carr, who trails the two-term senator in the polls.

Not to mention, Alexander handily won his last election with 65% of the vote and has raised significantly more campaign cash.

Carr pegs campaign on immigration

Carr has staked his campaign largely on Alexander's stance on immigration, slamming the two-term senator's vote last year for the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill - legislation that ultimately stalled in the House.

Alexander was among 14 GOP senators who voted for the comprehensive bill that Carr contends amounts to amnesty for undocumented immigrants.

The issue of immigration is back into the national spotlight as a surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America are crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, flooding emergency facilities and igniting a debate in Washington over what to do with the latest influx of immigrants.

As Congress and the White House lock horns over the border crisis, Alexander, known as a lawmaker willing to work with Democrats to broker bipartisan deals, recently aligned himself with tea party star and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on the issue.

Alexander's campaign hasn't been taking any chances from the beginning, running campaign ads as early as last July before he had any primary challengers.

Carr has also made a push for defunding Obamacare, as well as arguing Alexander is out of step with Tennessee voters.

The state representative was originally planning to challenge Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais in Tennessee's 4th U.S. Congressional District, but dropped his bid in order to take on Alexander.

Tea party wins spark hope for Carr

Carr's campaign received a jolt of enthusiasm after little-known professor David Brat upset House Majority Leader Eric Cantor earlier this year in Virginia's GOP primary.

Fewer wins this time, but tea party has changed the GOP

Then, longtime Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi was forced into a runoff against tea party challenger Chris McDaniel after initial primary results were too close to call. Cochran narrowly beat McDaniel in the runoff but the challenger's campaign is contesting those results.

"Make no mistake about it - the fight that Chris McDaniel started in Mississippi will continue here in Tennessee," Carr said after the Mississippi runoff.

But unlike McDaniel, polls indicate Carr's the distinct underdog to Alexander. And, aside from the ongoing vote battle in Mississippi and Brat's unexpected victory over Cantor, the establishment wing of the Republican Party has come away from this election cycle relatively unscathed.

Five other lesser known candidates are competing in Thursday's GOP contest in Tennessee, a factor Alexander benefits from as grassroots support is divided behind his leading challenger.

The winner of the Republican primary will go on to face one of four Democrats and a series of third party candidates in November's general election, though the seat is considered a safe bet for Republicans.

CNN's Ashley Killough and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2014 • Congress • Lamar Alexander • Senate • Tennessee
soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Coley says:
    August 7, 2014 11:08 am at 11:08 am
    Ten years from now, the Tea Party will be just a distant, unpleasant memory. And the former members? Those patriots will all be in assisted-care centers busy being force fed their strained prunes by people the patriots wouldn’t give the time of day to….

    You hit the nail on the head with this one!!! So true!πŸ‘πŸ˜„πŸ˜„

    Kudos to my girl Lynda for being on point and holding it down today. πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜Š

    August 7, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  2. definitely

    Malory Archer CALIFORNIA According to democrats the TEA PARTY was history years ago.

    YAWN.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Considering the guy in TN is their very LAST hope, the Dems were right.

    Not True
    Establishment Republicans view this as a wake up call to get back to conservative beliefs, however the tea party is not a party. It is a conservative belief in values, which were lost in being complacent and allowed an unprepared activist to occupy the Presidency.

    August 7, 2014 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  3. rs

    For the GOP to ever hope to become a national party again, they need to bury their Frankenstein's monster-the TEA Party.

    August 7, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  4. Dead Bear

    Ever talk to someone who supports TEA party candidates? If you have, you already know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, don't. You'll lose brain cells.

    August 7, 2014 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  5. Tommy G

    Poor, poor lefties are going down big time in November and are desperately trying every trick in the book to stop the same type of massacre that happened in 2010 because of Obamacare.

    Well, the bad news for the Democrats and good news for the country is the American people are on to all your lies and failure and have had enough of it. Say good bye to a LOT of seats, especially all those Red State Democrat Senator seats. Red state voters are tired of your far left wing party forcing your rubbish on them. They will start voting in their own best interests and that is NOT for a Democrat.

    August 7, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  6. Rudy NYC

    "The tea party is expanding its base while the democrats base is shrinking. Ha, ha, no guts to buck the Establishment! Obama and Reid are the masters of obstructionism. Don't know history do you The Democrats Were The Confederates."
    -------------------------------
    Wrong. Don't you know your history?

    Both parties went through a highly publicized re-alignment in the mid-1960s. The so called "Dixie-crats" of the 1960s were the remnants of the confederates. They were the Democrats from South of the Mason-Dixon Line. Most of the Southerners in DC because today's Republicans, and most of the Northerners became today's Democrats.

    August 7, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  7. Sniffit

    "Well, the bad news for the Democrats and good news for the country is the American people are on to all your lies and failure and have had enough of it. "

    The American people, by a margin of 1.3M, wanted the Dems to control the House last election. It's pretty amazing that you can admit to the gerrymandering effect and then believe the election results somehow represent the majority of Americans' desires all in the same cognitively dissonant breath.

    August 7, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  8. Mark in Seattle

    "Powerhouse Sarah Palin"??? Outhouse maybe.

    August 7, 2014 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  9. Boomer in Mo

    Dead Bear, I know a lot of Teapartiers, even have family members who are Teapartiers. Many of them are actually quite intelligent. BUT, they are not critical thinkers and shun away from new information, opposing views or anything the fear might change their minds. I suck up all the information and opinions I can and make up my mind from there. I'm far left on some issues, far right on some issues and middle of the road on the rest. The big problem with Teapartiers is they are intentionally ignorant about lots of things and generally do not seem to intellectually able to put themselves in someone else's shoes when thinking about issues.

    August 7, 2014 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  10. excuse my rant

    definitely

    At least conservatives have a choice, the democrats only have the same old Reid puppets.
    ______________________
    The choice for Republicans would be similar to choosing between a full frontal lobotomy or a permanent vegetative state.

    August 7, 2014 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  11. definitely

    salty dog Yup, you must give more, so the wealthiest won't have too, it will make you rich, and cut funding for all services: the rich don't need them, still amazed at how some actually believe giving more to the richest will solve the problem of the rich having to much, and the rest of society can't support the economy with what's left, just mind blowing, really is.

    August 7, 2014 10:57 am at 10:57 am |

    Yep! That made very little sense. The top 10% pay 70% of income taxes. How much then would be be too much? Income tax is only a fraction of taxes collected so what happens when you over tax income of the rich? Hint, less investment in job producing opportunities and more public dependency on government requiring more taxes. Then you reach the point of no return and socialism. Oh! But then we taxed the companies more you say. They already pay 39% in taxes now so how much is to much? Hint, it is already too much. Most American companies try to keep as many jobs as they can here but Americans want their stuff now and don't want to absorb the higher cost, which is overhead. Taxes and labor, along with the normal cost of business expenses are overhead. I hear very few complain about the cost of their smart phones. We all share in the fault in that companies moved to other countries. But government bears the responsibility of over burdening companies with taxation and us for turning government into a 'for me strongarm'

    August 7, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  12. S. B. Stein

    I have wonder what people find so appealing about Sarah Palin as a candidate or political pundit. If Carr is pinning his hopes on her helping out, he's doomed unless he can get his supporters to the polls.

    August 7, 2014 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  13. salty dog

    Oh you mean the deep red nanny states, yeah, their not the brightest bunch, good for you. How is it a poor white trash person, who's entire income is from welfare, going to be better off when a Republican cuts him off? I can't wait to hear more, its a slow day, I could use the entertainment.

    August 7, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  14. salty dog

    Oh, and while your at it explain how fixing a recession without your help is a failure, killing osama, stock market, housing is recovering, best health insurance I've had in ten years, plenty of overtime, one more failure, and I'm buying a new pontoon boat, oh the horror.

    August 7, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  15. luke, AZ

    definitely –
    "The tea party is expanding its base while the democrats base is shrinking. Ha, ha, no guts to buck the Establishment! Obama and Reid are the masters of obstructionism. Don't know history do you The Democrats Were The Confederates."

    The tea party is equated to the "Old" south, out molded ideology, separatist views and lesser educated. It's not that Democrats were the Republicans and the Republicans were the Democrats in the 19th century. The names of the parties are irrelevant, it's the ideology that's important. I was taking AP History in high school long before you received your GED. The tea party is diminishing. If the tea party is expanding then they should have the guts to form their own party.

    August 7, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  16. Malory Archer

    definitely
    Malory Archer CALIFORNIA According to democrats the TEA PARTY was history years ago.

    YAWN.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Considering the guy in TN is their very LAST hope, the Dems were right.

    Not True
    Establishment Republicans view this as a wake up call to get back to conservative beliefs, however the tea party is not a party. It is a conservative belief in values, which were lost in being complacent and allowed an unprepared activist to occupy the Presidency.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    You're joking, right? How does ultra-cons being shown the door and handed a little "also-ran" banner as a consolation prize on the way out while the more moderate candidate wins the nomination translate into "Establishment Republicans view(ing) this as a wake up call to get back to conservative beliefs"?

    August 7, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  17. salty dog

    Why don't you research how much of the money they control, they control it, you pay the taxes, perfect.

    August 7, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  18. Malory Archer

    definitely

    Yep! That made very little sense. The top 10% pay 70%

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    They also hoover up 90% of American wealth, so they SHOULD be paying 90% of taxes so what's left of the middle class continue to have some buying power, which helps keep the economic wheels turning.

    August 7, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  19. salty dog

    If mitt Romney paid anywhere near what he was supposed to, we wouldn't be having this conversation, and he would have gladly shown his taxes, even buffet knows how unfair it is, but hey, what would he know, and at least I admitted not knowing everything, but the people I listened to surely do . If 1% of a business was absorbing 95% of its money, guess what would happen?

    August 7, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    ".... ... Yep! That made very little sense. The top 10% pay 70% of income taxes. How much then would be be too much? Income tax is only a fraction of taxes collected so what happens when you over tax income of the rich? ... ..."
    --------------------------
    You're conveniently overlooking the fact that the top 10% earn more than 70% of all income.

    August 7, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  21. jim

    "conservative powerhouse Sarah Palin" ....

    Really?? In what way??

    August 7, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  22. cold truth

    I pay 400 weekly in taxes, think I don't feel it, and think I don't want to support career welfare recipients, I'm with ya. My kid once asked me what happened before we gave out food stamps, and housing. I told him, in the old days only the rich had big families, why, because if you had a kid you couldn't afford to feed, it starved. That being said, I simply can't vote for a republican, they want it to be that way again, money rules, no thank you.

    August 7, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  23. definitely

    salty dog, need help with facts huh! Osama was turned in by a Pakistani doctor, Obama didn't just find him, stock market crashed due to Clinton democrats wanting to give affordable housing to people who could afford them, housing struggling to recover because Obama's refusal to address jobs by pushing socialism and last but not the last obamacare. If you have the best insurance for first time in ten years it is because 145 million working Americans and their families were screwed because of obamacare and are paying a hefty price for it and subsidizing your socialist program.

    August 7, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  24. BP4

    ...and in 5 years.....someone will ask......."What ever happened to that Tea Party?".......

    August 7, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  25. salty dog

    It sounds as though a lot of you rwnj, have voted gop for a long time, let me guess, your life keeps getting worse and you blame the other guy, because they told you too, and here you are

    August 7, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
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