WASHINGTON. November 30, 2013 — The conventional wisdom is that Lamar Alexander is in a position that almost any political would kill for.
The Republican Senator from Tennessee represents a state that has gone from being a purple state even a decade ago to a solidly red state. Ten years ago, a Democrat sat in the governor’s mansion. The Democrats controlled both the State House and State Senate, albeit with a Speaker of the Senate who governed with a coalition of Republicans and Democrats.
Today the Volunteer State is as red as you can find. There is a Republican governor and the Republicans now have supermajorities in both the House and Senate. It has been twenty years since the Democrats elected a United States Senator and now the only members of Tennessee’s Congressional Delegation that are Democrats come from the urban areas of Memphis and Nashville.
Lamar Alexander is a well-known former governor, Secretary of Education under George H.W. Bush and now a two term Senator.
His opponent, Joe Carr, is a State Legislator running his first statewide race and Alexander’s fundraising at least for the moment, is far outpacing Carr.
All of this would suggest that Alexander is cruising towards another term.
The conventional wisdom is quite wrong.
Lamar Alexander is now running ads in Tennessee in advance of his primary election. On its face, that does not seem unusual except his primary is not until August. In the last fundraising quarter, Lamar Alexander raised $840,000 but spent $1.1 million. He is now engaged in a huge advertising buy nine months in advance of the election.
Why would he do that?
His name recognition among Tennesseans is through the roof.
Lamar Alexander is coming up on a list he does not want to be on. That is a list of establishment Republicans the Tea Party is coming for.
Alexander has quietly lowered his profile in the last year. Unlike Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham, who are considered bigger targets by Tea Party groups, Alexander has tried to fly below the radar. But he also has not been afraid to challenge the Tea Party either.
Appearances to the contrary, Alexander is in trouble.
Lamar Alexander’s ratings from conservative groups like Heritage Action for America are disappointing to say the least. Heritage Action gives Alexander only a 47 ranking. The average Republican in the Senate, including people like Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham and Susan Collins, is 69.
There is one really big wild card in the Tennessee Senate race. A group made up of Tea Party groups, including some of the people who helped start the Tea Party movement both nationally and in Tennessee have formed a group called “Beat Lamar.” This grassroots group is going out, hitting the streets with one mission. They want to defeat Lamar Alexander.
The winner of the Republican primary will be the winner of the senate seat. The Democrats are in such disarray that they cannot even field a credible statewide candidate. In 2012, the Democrat nominee was so bad the Democrat Party disavowed him.
Lamar Alexander is not the lock for reelection he would have people believe. If he were, he wouldn’t be spending all of that money this far in advance of the election.
Soon it will be 2014 and Lamar Alexander is a RINO on the run.
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