Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett tells the News Sentinel that he may challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander in the 2014 primary election.
But Burchett’s first step, if he chooses to run, won’t be at an Aug. 31 political forum organized by the Nashville Tea Party and Coalition for a Constitutional Senate.
“I have to work. I keep a pretty busy schedule, seven days as week,” Burchett said. “I probably won’t be making that.”
The forum, announced on the coalition’s website, is intended to introduce candidates to go against what the group calls “establishment” Republicans.
Burchett, should he run, said he’s not happy with that establishment either. But he stopped short of calling himself a tea party conservative.
“It’s something that I’m interested in,” Burchett told the News Sentinel on Friday, referring to running against Alexander.
“I do enjoy being mayor. I think we’ve put together a good team. We’ve done something that Washington has failed to do, and that’s pay down debt and not increase taxes.”
Should he pursue the U.S. Senate seat, Burchett admitted that campaign funds may be an issue.
“There’s a lot of mega wealthy people,” he said.
Support from wider Republicans could also play a role, according to Burchett.
“The reality of mounting a statewide campaign,” Burchett said, “is the ruling class of that party are the money-first people.”
Money can cover the advertisements and campaign to get out the message, though Burchett, a former Tennessee state senator, has his own connections across the state. He said he speaks with those people every day.
“I’ve got to go with what’s in my gut,” he said.
Even so, he would face a very strong incumbent, he said.
“He’s probably got $3 million in the bank,” Burchett said of Alexander and his campaign funds, “and he’s got all the infrastructure in place, and frankly, one or two of his people pretty much control the media in the state.”
How, then, could Burchett compete?
“It would be a grassroots campaign,” he said.