Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn, raised over $900,000 for his re-election bid in the second quarter, his campaign said Wednesday. He also launched a new ad featuring the senator arguing with President Barack Obama.
Alexander now has $3.4 million cash on hand, according to his campaign, with just over a month to go until Tennessee’s Aug. 8 Republican primary.
The new ad shows C-SPAN footage of the White House Healthcare Summit in February of 2010. Alexander was one of several Republicans to attend the bipartisan meeting, and at one point, he engaged with Obama over whether healthcare premiums would rise as a result of Obamacare.
“When you said, ‘premiums go up,’ that’s just not case,” Obama says in the clip, addressing Alexander.
“The Congressional Budget Office report says that premiums will rise,” Alexander responds.
“No, no, no, no, and this is an example of where we’ve got to get our facts straight,” Obama says.
“That’s my point,” says Alexander.
“Lamar was proven right,” a narrator says in the ad.
The ad will begin running statewide on July 6, according to the campaign.
Alexander faces a primary challenge from state Rep. Joe Carr. Carr has drawn significantly more attention in recent weeks since House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., was defeated in a primary by unknown and underfunded college professor Dave Brat. He recently went up with his first ad of the campaign, attacking Alexander for voting for the Senate’s immigration overhaul bill.
The race is rated Safe Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
Newt Gingrich endorsed Alexander in Tennessee. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich endorsed Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Thursday.
“We need Lamar’s experience and shrewdness to fix Washington,” Gingrich, a Georgia Republican and former presidential candidate, said in a statement released by the Alexander campaign.
Alexander, a second-term senator, is heavily favored to win his Republican primary on Aug. 7. Conservatives initially marked Alexander as a potential primary target in 2014, but top opposition never came close to materializing like some of his colleagues, for example Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.
The primary challengers to two Senate Republicans quickly jumped on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s primary loss in Virginia, using the stunning news in an effort to excite their base.
“Eric Cantor isn’t the only incumbent from Virginia who is going to lose his primary this year,” said Milton Wolf, a physician who has raised residency questions in his challenge to Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts. “On August 5, it’s Pat Roberts’ turn.”
“What we have seen tonight in Virginia shows that no race should be taken for granted and all the money and position in the world doesn’t resonate with an electorate that is fed up with a Washington establishment that has abandoned conservative principles,” said Joe Carr, a state legislator taking on Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander. “From Virginia to Mississippi, a transformational change is underway that is being led by a true grassroots movement.” Full story
An internal poll conducted for Sen. Lamar Alexander’s campaign shows the Tennessee Republican with a 45-point lead over his highest-tracking primary opponent, according to a memo obtained by CQ Roll Call.
The poll, conducted by North Star Opinion Research, surveyed 600 likely GOP primary voters and found that Alexander enjoys a 67-percent-to-26-percent favorable-to-unfavorable rating.
Meanwhile, tea-party-backed state Rep. Joe Carr is struggling to gain name recognition in the state. Seventy percent of likely Republican voters said they have never heard of Carr, up only 3 points from an August poll. Full story
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., launched the first TV ad of his re-election campaign on Thursday, reminding voters of his conservative principles and years of fighting on behalf of the state.
As he seeks a third term and fends of a GOP primary challenge, the Alexander campaign is pushing out the ad statewide. The 60-second spot will hit the airwaves on Monday and run for four weeks, according to an Alexander consultant, who would not reveal the exact buy size.
“To that land where politics too often doesn’t work, Tennessee sends Lamar Alexander,” the ad’s announcer says to kick off the ad. “Conservative, honest, smart. Lamar Alexander is Tennessee.”
Enzi is vulnerable to a primary challenge in 2014. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Hard-line conservatives are rising out of the ashes of a weekslong government shutdown, emboldened by the possibility of adding to their ranks in the Senate next year — whether by picking up Democrat-held seats or taking out Republican incumbents.
Just two Republican senators have lost in primaries in the last two election cycles, but that’s not stopping a growing number of intraparty challengers this cycle. Conservative third-party groups and candidates hope to give more backup to folks like Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, who led an effort to defund the health care law.
The GOP brand overall may have taken a significant hit this month and caused at least some concern within the party about obtaining or keeping the majority in either chamber in the next couple of election cycles. But the shutdown only fueled challenges to sitting Republicans.
It’s still too early to know exactly how competitive many of the challengers can be. At this point, there is a big difference in the competitiveness of the races from the top three to bottom three on this list. And as the most recent fundraising reports to the Federal Election Commission illustrated, nearly all of the incumbents’ opponents are starting out in deep financial holes.
Still, with outside groups such as the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund beginning to engage, a challenger’s money isn’t the only threat — and any of these races could theoretically take off.
Here are the seven Republican senators most vulnerable to a primary challenge, in order: Full story
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., holds a massive lead over current and potential primary opponents, and holds a high job performance rating from likely Republican primary voters in the Volunteer State, according to an internal poll provided exclusively to CQ Roll Call.
Republican strategist Chip Saltsman announced he has resigned from the campaign of Joe Carr — just hours after the candidate switched from a House race to challenge Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., in the primary.
“I signed up to help you run for Congress, not the Senate,” Saltsman wrote in his letter of resignation, which the operative released to the press Tuesday morning.
Carr, a state representative, initially launched a campaign to challenge embattled Rep. Scott DesJarlais in the 4th District GOP primary. However, that race was getting crowded, with state Sen. Jim Tracy also vying for the nomination and so far leading in the fundraising battle. Full story
Alexander has a new challenger. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
State Rep. Joe Carr, a conservative Republican who has been running against embattled Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., announced Tuesday that he will switch gears to challenge Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., instead.
Carr is the first Republican to announce a primary challenge to Alexander, who has received fierce backlash from some tea party groups for his work with his Democratic colleagues.
Local tea party activists are currently vetting other potential Alexander challengers — a process they say will begin this month. Other potential GOP primary challengers include Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and former Williamson County Chairman Kevin Kookogey, according to the Tennessean.
After the drip-drip of campaign fundraising leaks over the past two weeks, it’s now clear that the amount of money it took to look impressive is staggering.
Challengers and incumbents raised the bar so high that to be considered a standout this time around, a candidate had to have raised $2 million for a Senate campaign or more than half a million for the House.
A number of nervous senators raised more than a million dollars in the second quarter, but it was the $2 million mark that made us look twice at recent reports.
As for the House, it was only last cycle when $200,000 to $400,000 marks were above-average for candidates in competitive races. That is no longer the case. At least 10 incumbents or challengers raised between $400,000 and $500,000 this quarter.
Here are some of the numbers raised our eyebrows over the past two weeks:
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., placed a six-figure television buy more than a year ahead of Tennessee’s primary, enlisting Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul as a guest star, according to an Alexander spokesman.
The reservation will run statewide from July 8-21 and cost about $180,000. It includes broadcast and cable reservations and $24,000 in radio advertising.
The Lamar camp provided the ad for the buy to CQ Roll Call and noted that he had a $2 million second-quarter fundraising haul. The ad is an anti-government, “positive” spot about fishing rights.
A week ago, Senate Conservatives Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins wrote to group supporters of his interest in supporting a primary challenge against Alexander if “a strong, conservative” candidate emerges.
Tennessee’s GOP primary is scheduled on Aug. 7, 2014.
The leader of the Senate Conservatives Fund emailed supporters on Friday promising to back primary challenges against three Republican incumbents who voted for the Senate immigration bill that passed the chamber Thursday.
“There are three incumbents up next year who supported the amnesty bill,” SCF Executive Director Matt Hoskins wrote, calling out Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Lamar Alexander or Tennessee, and Susan Collins of Maine. “If strong, conservative challengers emerge in these races, we will support them.”
Senate Conservatives Fund is a tea-party aligned group that was founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint. The South Carolina Republican is no longer with the group. Graham, a member of the bipartisan “gang of eight” that drafted the underlying immigration overhaul, indicated in a Thursday Senate floor speech that he knew his position on immigration might create primary problems for him.
“I have never been more proud to be involved in an issue than I have trying to fix illegal immigration because it is a national security threat, it is an economic threat, and it is a cultural threat,” Graham said.
“As to my politics, I am doing great among Hispanics in South Carolina. The bad news is that there are not very many who vote in the Republican primary,” he added. Full story
“I’m always careful to never say ‘never, never, never, never.’ But I’m not doing anything remotely that you would expect me to be doing at this point if I were to be interested in doing that,” he said, according to the paper. “As I’ve told some of the recruiters, I don’t think I’d like it, and I don’t think you’d like me.”
If Alexander, up for his third term in 2014, is vulnerable at all, it’s probably from a primary challenge. And the senator has already been working to shore up his right flank. During the weekend, he made a show of strength, announcing that just about every important statehouse and Tennessee federal official was supporting him.
Sen. Lamar Alexander wants to make clear that all of Tennessee’s GOP establishment is behind his 2014 bid for re-election, sending a beacon flare to any ambitious Republicans who might consider taking him on in a primary.
Alexander will announce on Saturday that Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., R-Tenn., will chair his re-election campaign with Tennessee Republican Reps. Marsha Blackburn, Phil Roe, Diane Black, Stephen Fincher and Chuck Fleischmann, along with Gov. Bill Haslam, Sen. Bob Corker, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell serving as honorary co-chairmen.
If Alexander faces any threat this cycle, it would be from his right. There is no indication there are Republicans preparing to run, unlike in other states where GOP senators are vulnerable in primaries like Georgia and South Carolina. And his announcement means any challenger would be running against the totality of the Tennessee party establishment.