NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander has defeated his tea party-backed challenger, state Rep. Joe Carr, in Tennessee’s Republican primary.
The incumbent’s victory on Thursday deals another blow to national tea party momentum after a stunning primary win over Republican Rep. Eric Cantor in Virginia in June.
Carr had garnered high-profile endorsements from tea party-allied figures and portrayed Alexander as being out of step with Tennessee’s increasingly conservative political outlook. But Carr could not make significant gains against the 74-year-old Alexander, a two-term senator and former Tennessee governor.
Unofficial results Thursday showed Alexander with 52.4 percent of the vote. Carr had 38.4 percent of the vote with 20 percent of the precincts reporting.
Note: Alexander’s victory statement is below
News release from Sen. Lamar Alexander’s campaign
NASHVILLE – Lamar Alexander today released the following statement after winning the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in the Tennessee Republican primary:
“In one of the largest Republican primaries in a conservative state, Tennesseans have nominated a get-it-done governor and a get-it-done senator. Both Gov. Haslam and I are conservatives. We both know how to give a pretty good conservative speech. But we also both know that our job is not over when the speech is finished. It is really just starting.
“Our job is to sit down, roll up our sleeves, work with other people and get it done — get a result. That kind of leadership is why Tennessee has attracted auto jobs, leads the nation in improving academic performance and has the lowest debt in the country.
“The absence of that kind of leadership is why Washington makes it harder to find a job, has created a health care law that is an historic mistake, has debt running out of control and has made a mess of our immigration policy.
“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. 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.
“I thank the voters, my family, my campaign staff and all who contributed and worked together for the last two years to make this campaign so successful.
“I go to work every day counting it a great privilege to represent the people of Tennessee in the United States Senate. Some say we have bigger challenges today than we have ever had. I don’t believe that. Our country is as strong as ever and we have had bigger problems in our past.
“What we have in Washington is an absence of get-it-done leadership. I congratulate the other candidates who competed in our primary and invite those who supported them to join us. I also invite Democrats and Independents to join us.
“Our country has serious problems. If we want to make it easier to find a job and less expensive to buy health care, if we want to regain control of the federal debt and our borders and our local schools, it will take all of us working together to get it done. I am grateful for the opportunity you have given me to do that.”