On Lamar and Carr — and those other guys who want to be Tennessee’s U.S. senator

While most reporting on Tennessee’s U.S. Senate campaign has focused on incumbent Lamar Alexander and challenger Joe Carr, Richard Locker’s review of the race has comments from Democratic candidates and that other Republican challenger, George Flinn.

Flinn, who owns seven Memphis area radiology clinics and nearly 50 radio and television stations around the country, is focused exclusively on his “patient-centered health plan” as an alternative to the Affordable Care Act.

“I’m just keeping this focused on my plan. I really want to push this plan and I’m giving people a choice. If they like the health plan they’ve got, they’ve got one choice and if they like the patient-centered health plan, they’ve got another choice,” he said Friday. “Sen. Alexander is my friend. I consider myself friends with Rep. Carr as well. I think we’re all after the same thing.”

Flinn has demonstrated in his various Memphis-area races his willingness to spend millions of dollars of his own money, but funding will likely become an issue for Carr. “Let’s just say it’s going very well,” he said Thursday when asked about his campaign fundraising.

On the Democratic side, Knoxville lawyers Terry Adams and Gordon Ball and Nashville businessman Larry Crim, a perennial candidate, are running for the nomination to take on the Republican nominee in the Nov. 4 general election.
In their joint appearances before Democratic groups, Adams, Ball and Crim attack Alexander as out of touch with poor, middle- and working-class Tennesseans. They charge the senator is for cutting Social Security and veterans’ benefits and opposing a minimum-wage increase.

The three spoke to the Davidson County Democratic Women Thursday night. Ball contended he can attract more Republican votes in November than his Democratic rivals because he grew up in East Tennessee’s heavily Republican Cocke County, where he said his father made moonshine whiskey.

“I respectfully disagree with Mr. Ball that he’s the only one who can go up against Mr. Alexander,” Adams said. Adams grew up in Nashville, entered the race last year and was surprised when Ball announced his candidacy in March.

…Lately, Carr has charged that Alexander supports the Common Core State Standards for K-12 schools that are vigorously opposed by tea party conservatives. Alexander told reporters Monday that he’s for high academic standards and believes it’s up to states to decide which standards to adopt but opposes federal attempts to coerce the states to adopt a specific set of standards.

“We don’t need a national school board,” he said.

Carr fought a losing battle in the legislature this year to repeal Common Core in Tennessee but he voted for the 2010 legislation that set the standards in place, as a condition for the state to win $500 million in federal “Race to the Top” funding.

“Yes, and if I had known what I know now there’s no question I would have voted no,” Carr said Thursday. “The challenge we had then is that ‘Common Core’ wasn’t a term (in use then) or a curriculum push through standards and testing out of D.C. like it is now, so a lot of us couldn’t have anticipated it.

“What I find disingenuous or disturbing is that so many of my colleagues understand what is going on with Common Core but won’t correct the decision that was made that was wrong in 2010.”