Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 8, 2016

Tennessee GOP Primary Results: Lamar Alexander Wins

Alexander has served two terms. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander likely secured his Senate seat for another term Thursday, handily winning the GOP primary in a safe Republican state.

Alexander led state Rep. Joe Carr 52.4 percent to 37.4 percent, with 20 percent of precincts reporting when The Associated Press called the race.

His victory means no Republican senators have lost a primary challenge, ending the tea party’s streak at two cycles. None of the remaining primaries feature a Republican senator .

Alexander took pre-emptive action to avoid a challenge from his right as serious as some of his Republican colleagues faced. He announced re-election plans early and locked down the support of the major Republicans in the state — cementing himself as the frontrunner and ensuring none would challenge him. The senator also raised a formidable sum of money that Carr simply couldn’t compete with.

Carr ran as the underdog, focusing his campaign on his opposition to the immigration overhaul, and Alexander’s vote for that bill. He got a momentum boost when then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., fell in a primary to a longshot opponent. Like Virginia’s Dave Brat, Carr’s major sources of support were conservative talk radio personalities like Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin.

But Alexander is an institution in Tennessee, and Carr’s insurgent campaign could not keep up. Carr, who originally challenged GOP Rep. Scott DesJarlais, switched races in August 2013 and became Alexander’s first and only legitimate challenger.

Alexander issued a statement after his win calling himself a “get-it-done senator” with conservative credentials. He noted he and Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, who also won his primary, can give a good speech, then made his point.

“If we want to change Obamacare or fix the debt or reverse the trend toward a national school board we are going to have to do more than make a speech,” Alexander said. “We are going to have to pass something in the Congress, and we need senators who know how and are willing to work with other people to do that.”

A handful of Democrats sought their party’s Senate nomination, but the race is rated Safe Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Officials are still tallying votes in House races.


Related stories:

How Lamar Alexander Staved Off His Primary Challenger

Tennessee Primary Results Find House Republicans in Close Calls

Top 10 Most Vulnerable Senators

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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  • apgreco

    Alexander issued a statement after his win calling himself a “get-it-done senator”. What this means is that Alexander compromises Republican values to appease the Democrats. When was the last time Harry Reid and the Democrats compromised with the Republicans on ANYTHING? The establishment Republicans (Alexander,McCain,McConnell,etc) are foolish.

  • Pragmatic Conservative

    The Tea Party political strategy has been totally and completely refuted during this election cycle. Every attempt to defeat an incumbent Senator was thwarted, and their gubernatorial candidates are all in trouble. The American people are tired of the politics of extremism and division.
    To the Tea Partiers – please re-join the GOP, and work with us to make the party bigger and better than ever. Work with us to defeat the liberal ideology that infests Washington, DC. In short, just work with us rather than focusing all your energies on trying to destroy the party that is your best chance to achieve the change you desire. With a positive and constructive message, we can win elections and bring real change to DC. If you insist on continuing to try to tear down everyone who won’t declare their total fealty to the Tea Party message, and focus only on what you want to stop, rather than what you want to accomplish, however, you will end up like every other failed political movement in the past.

  • epv33

    Spoken like a true useful idiot that has no idea what is at stake
    here. Unless the RINOS are taken down, the country will go down.
    They are as bad as the Democrat Communists since they have
    been enabling them all along.
    AND by the way, there is NOTHING Conservative in your thinking.

  • Pragmatic Conservative

    Any person who actually pays attention to politics, rather than sit back and have Mark Levin and Michael Savage simply tell them what to think, knows that those “RINOs” you hate are far more conservative than the liberals who’ve been elected thanks to the horrible candidates the Tea Party has nominated in recent years. If you can’t tell the difference between Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid, then you are so far out of touch with mainstream America that you have absolutely no grip on reality.

  • bpai99

    Keep on ranting as you keep on losing. Those of us who believe this country is a democracy will continue to fight against theocratic zealots like yourself who reject the principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. You and your fanatical, hate-filled comrades are a greater threat to this country than al-Qaeda (your brothers in intolerance).

    “Nothing is more certain in politics than the crushing defeat of a faction that holds ideological purity to be of greater value than
    compromise.” – William Safire in the wake of the 1972 Democratic fiasco

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