Tag Archives: joe Carr

Alexander defeats Carr, Flinn for GOP nomination to a new term

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
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Anti-Alexander PAC breaking new ground backing Carr in ‘Beat Lamar’ effort

Excerpt from a Daily Beast article:

A Tea Party Super PAC is breaking new ground in the senate primary in Tennessee, but does its apparent domination of Joe Carr’s campaign break the rules?

…(Joe Carr), the leading challenger to Sen. Lamar Alexander is crisscrossing the state to attend local GOP meetings and headline nine “Restore America -Joe Carr for U.S. Senate” rallies.

The rallies feature all of the must-haves for a campaign event, including streamers, “Beat Lamar” yard signs, fresh-faced staff in matching “Beat Lamar” t-shirts and, of course, the candidate himself. The largest to-date featured radio host Laura Ingraham in Nashville, rallying 800 conservatives to go the polls for Carr and “Beat Lamar.”

But the events are not a part of the Carr for Senate campaign, nor does his campaign pay for them. Instead, they are sponsored by the Real Conservatives National Committee, a Super PAC run by Tea Party veteran and grassroots ace, Michael Patrick Leahy that created “Beat Lamar” to choose and then rally behind a conservative challenger to Alexander.
Leahy’s goal, he says, is to be the “the conservative ground game specialists.” Unlike traditional Super PACs that typically operate at arm’s length from campaigns by focusing on ad buys, the “Beat Lamar” effort has often put the candidate at the center of its work.

In addition to the rallies, Beat Lamar has paid a team of more than 40 canvassers to knock on more than 80,000 doors on Carr’s behalf, to attend Alexander campaign events with “Beat Lamar” signs, and to staff the Beat Lamar events that Carr attends.

The arrangement is unorthodox enough that it could revolutionize the role that Super PACs play in campaigns of the future. But it also dances on the edge of campaign finance law, which allows candidates to appear at Super PAC events, but prohibits any coordination of strategy or resources between a Super PAC and a campaign.
Larry Noble, the former General Counsel to the FEC, called the series of “Beat Lamar” rallies in the absence of anything put on by the Carr campaign “very odd.”

“There is a strong argument here that (the RCNC) is not running a shadow campaign or even a parallel campaign, but they are running a campaign with the candidate.” Noble said. “If these are events that are all about him and all about electing him, then there are serious issues about potentially crossing the line.”

But in an interview with the Daily Beast, Leahy said the two efforts have no crossover.
“We don’t coordinate with the campaign, but we have endorsed Joe and we invite him to attend the events,” Leahy told the Daily Beast. “We originally set up the events as debates on immigration and invited Lamar and Joe. Joe accepted immediately. Lamar never responded.”

Alexander campaigns with Haslam on final day; Carr campaigns with Campfield

Sen. Lamar Alexander and his most prominent challenger, Joe Carr, both campaigned in East Tennessee on primary election eve, reports the News Sentinel. Alexander teamed with Gov. Bill Haslam at his Knoxville event. Carr teamed with state Sen. Stacey Campfield, who is facing his own primary challenge.

Alexander, who’s seeking a third term, has made a point of not specifically mentioning his challenger by name.

….Carr, whose campaign has drawn endorsements from national figures in the tea party movement such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and conservative talk radio hosts such as Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin, downplayed the outside interest.

“The only endorsement I’m looking for is from the voters on election day,” he said. “I guess Lamar thought if he ignored us, we’d go away. We didn’t go away.”

About 15-20 people showed up for Carr’s appearance, including state Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, who’s facing a challenger of his own.

….Alexander’s rally drew a crowd of about 100 or more people, including Campfield’s opponent, Dr. Richard Briggs, and various other local Republican mainstays.

AP’s TN election setup story (mostly on Alexander-Carr)

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
LAWRENCEBURG, Tenn. – After losing his first bid for Tennessee governor 40 years ago, Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander shed his blue suit and buttoned-up appearance for a plaid shirt, hiking boots and a 1,000-mile walk around the state.

The goal was to connect with voters on a personal level, to make sure he could never be accused by any rival of not being one of them.

“I think Tennesseans and I know each other pretty well,” Alexander said. “It’s hard for me to come to Tennessee without meeting one or two families in whose home I spent the night when I walked across the state.”

But after roughly four decades in office – two terms as governor and two in the U.S. Senate, with two runs for president mixed between – Alexander faces a challenge in the state’s Thursday primary from a pair of tea party-styled primary challengers who have tried to cast the 74-year-old incumbent as out of touch with the state’s increasingly conservative electorate.

“The voters are smart enough to see through the facade of what he’s running on, which is a legacy that’s over 30 years old as governor,” said state Rep. Joe Carr, one of the two Republicans seeking to deny Alexander a third term. “People are going, ‘OK, but what have you done in 12 years as United States senator?'”
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Alexander poll: Alexander 53 percent, Carr 24, Flinn 5

A poll done by an adviser to U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander shows the senator holding a 29-point lead in the Republican primary, according to The Tennessean.

Alexander stands at 53 percent in a ballot test conducted July 27-29 by North Star Opinion Research, an adviser to the Alexander campaign. State Rep. Joe Carr, whom Ingraham campaigned last week, stands at 24 percent, and Memphis physician George Flinn stands at 5 percent.

The campaign released the results at The Tennessean’s request Wednesday. A previous poll, taken before Ingraham’s visit and before an endorsement of Carr by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, showed Carr trailing Alexander by 32 percentage points.

Carr says the race is much closer. He cites a poll taken earlier this month on behalf of Tea Party Nation that showed him 7 percentage points behind Alexander.

According to North Star, 17 percent of like Republican voters were undecided or refused to respond. North Star president Whit Ayres said in a summary memo that undecided voters typically break disproportionately toward the challengers, but “even if that occurs, Senator Alexander’s lead is sufficient to produce a comfortable margin of victory.”

Washington Post: In TN, it’s tea party versus Howard Baker’s legacy

The Washington Post has an interesting (and lengthy) look at Tennessee’s ongoing U.S. Senate campaign and the state’s voting traditions. An excerpt:

(In Tennessee,) the tea party activists are competing against more than just one sitting senator and a Republican establishment lined up behind him. They are running against Baker’s legacy — a culture of Republican politics that has married conservative principles with pragmatic attitudes about governing.

For half a century, Tennessee voters have elected a succession of Republicans to statewide office who are more problem-solvers than ideologues, consensus-seekers rather than rabble-rousers. The current trio — Alexander, Sen. Bob Corker and Gov. Bill Haslam — all embody in one way or another the Baker tradition.

“They don’t want big government, but they do want government to work,” said John Geer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University.

… Chip Saltsman, a GOP strategist and former Tennessee Republican Party chairman, said of the three, “There’s not a hard edge to them.”

… Carr, in a telephone interview, said Alexander is insufficiently conservative, wrong for having supported an overhaul of immigration law and far too willing to work with Democrats, and even President Obama. He called Baker a “great statesman” but said this of Baker and Alexander’s style of politics: “I don’t believe it’s suited to the times we’re in.”

Alexander believes Baker’s approach is as vital today as ever. Every Republican in the Senate, he said, is a conservative. “It’s like saying, ‘Who’s the skinniest offensive tackle?’ They’re all over 300 pounds, so what’s the difference?”

He argued that governing a complex country in difficult times requires developing relationships and finding consensus across party lines. The real conflict inside the Republican Party is not conservatives vs. moderates, he said, but rather “between conservatives who think their job is finished when they make a speech and conservatives who want to govern.”

… Over many years, Tennessee has produced a striking number of senators from both parties who have achieved national prominence. Many ran for the presidency or were considered presidential material — Democratic senators such as Al Gore (and before him Estes Kefauver and Albert Gore Sr.) and Republicans such as Fred Thompson and Bill Frist, who rose to majority leader (and before them Bill Brock). Past governors have been cut from the same cloth — Republican Don Sundquist and or Democrats Ned McWherter and Phil Bredesen.

“What there is [in Tennessee] is a tradition of electing honorable, capable, thoughtful leaders,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster who is working for Alexander and Haslam this year. “It happens in Tennessee in a way that it hasn’t in almost any other state, and it’s been going on for decades.”

Today in Alexander vs. Carr campaign: Protesters and endorsements

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander told backers at a Music Row rally Monday evening he works with people across the aisle “because it gets results” — an approach out of favor with nearly four dozen tea party activists who picketed across the street.

Further from the Commercial Appeal:

Alexander, R-Tenn., cited endorsements he won earlier Monday from two former chairmen of the American Conservative Union, Al Cardenas and David Keene. One of his two major rivals for the Republican senatorial nomination, state Rep. Joe Carr, touted his new backing from the Eagle Forum, the conservative group founded by Phyllis Schlafly.

Alexander stopped on 16th Avenue South, home of the country music industry, with his new campaign bus blocking the view of the tea party members who walked up and down the sidewalk across the street. The picket was organized by “Beat Lamar,” a campaign effort paid for by a Spring Hill, Tennessee, group called Real Conservatives National Committee.

…The pickets carried “Beat Lamar” and Joe Carr signs and wore T-shirts with the same messages… The pickets did not disrupt the rally but two of them got in their vehicles and circled the block honking their horns. The driver of one was wearing a Beat Lamar T-shirt, and the other vehicle sported a “Don’t Tread on Me” front tag favored by tea partiers.

Alexander was undaunted. “Hey look, this is America; they have a right to express their view and I have a right to express mine,” he said.

After the senator was introduced by country star Kix Brooks, Alexander cited his willingness to work across the aisle, although he didn’t say “with Democrats.”

“If I stood up before you today and said I by myself brought in the auto industry and I by myself paid teachers more for teaching well and built the best road system, I wouldn’t be telling you the truth because I had to work with other people to do it,” he said. “Tennesseans respect the fact that those of us who are elected are expected not just to make a speech but to get things done.

“I’ve tried to do the same thing in Washington, D.C.

Note: Brian Resinger, spokesman for the Alexander campaign, sent this email comment after the event:
In the four hours demonstrators spent outside our event today, the Alexander grassroots team made more than 10,000 phone calls and knocked on more than 5,000 doors statewide.”

News releases on the endorsements cited in the above story, one from Alexander’s campaign and the other from Carr’s campaign, are below.
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Andrew Miller: ‘Ludicrous’ to suggest business ties led to Sarah Palin endorsing Joe Carrarah Palin backed Joe Carr backer, share business interest

Alaska business filings show Sarah Palin and Tennessee GOP Senate hopeful Joe Carr, whom Palin endorsed last week, both have a tie to Nashville millionaire investor Andrew Miller, a Carr supporter, reports the Chattanooga TFP.

Miller and Palin’s husband, Todd Palin, are among the owners of Rainbow Bay Resorts LLC, which operates what its website calls a “luxurious rustic fishing lodge” on Southwest Aslaska’s Bristol Bay watershed.

Filings with Alaska’s Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development show Miller and Palin have 22.5 percent interests in the business.

In a statement Miller charged the “Alexander campaign team is apparent trying to sell a story that Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Joe Carr is related to my personal ownership of an interest in an Alaskan fishing lodge.”

Miller said “there are numerous investors in that lodge and the investment by the Palin’s [sic] and I were made over a year ago, long before Joe Carr even thought about entering the Senate race against Lamar.

“The idea that the investment has anything to do with the Palin endorsement is ludicrous and insulting.”

Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Carr “was entirely in keeping with the conservative, Tea Party, Constitutional ideology that motivates her to support candidates who reflect those values.”

Miller generated headlines recently after the Federal Election Commission questioned whether a company Miller owned, Life Watch Pharmacy LLC, made a $9,564.54 corporate contribution to Carr after Miller had already hit the $5,200 limit on what he could personally contribute to Carr.

Carr said the $9,564.54 was interest on a $200,000 loan his campaign made to Life Watch, a transaction one expert has called highly unusual.

Miller is also spearheading a major independent expenditure effort in the U.S. Senate race with most of the funds attacking Alexander.

…Carr’s campaign did not answer questions posed by the Times Free Press. But Politico, which first reported the tie in, quoted a statement from Carr spokesman Kurt Bardella in which he said Palin’s endorsement is among a line of endorsements she has made this campaign cycle in other races

Flinn bashes Joe Carr as well as Lamar

This is apparently a new twist in the Republican U.S. Senate campaign, at least in the press release war: One of Alexander’s challengers directly attacking the other:

News release from George Flinn U.S. Senate campaign:
Memphis, TN – Joe Carr, like Lamar Alexander has a history of flip-flopping on important issues, dodging key votes, and being involved in backdoor deals that don’t benefit Tennesseans but himself.

“Every voter should demand transparency from candidates and research their records before voting. Joe Carr, like Lamar has flip-flopped on issues such as common core (voted for race-to-the top/HB7010 which implemented common core), and openly supported the internet sales tax, (TN Report 5/23/2013) which aims to hurt small businesses, dodged important immigration votes (HB 1929 that gave children of illegal immigrants in-state tuition), and gambled with donations from individuals without their permission (Tennessean 7/16/2014). If Carr is willing to risk donations from those who trust him most for his own personal gain, what will he do in Washington,” said Dr. Flinn.

“We do not need another Senator who misleads Tennesseans by voting on bills the wrong way and then covering it up later with manufactured weak apologies, or just dodging the tough votes all together. We need a fighter, someone who will take the tough route. Joe Carr is version number two of Lamar Alexander,” said Dr. Flinn.”

“If Tennesseans cannot trust Joe Carr to be responsible to the people while he is here in Tennessee, how can they expect him to 10 hours away in D.C. It is time Tennesseans stand up and elect someone who Tennesseans can trust—not a career politician but a businessman and innovator. I will stand behind what I say, always being responsible to the people and I will not forget about Tennessee once I cross into the Washington beltway,” said Dr. Flinn.”

Why are conservative national Super PACs not backing Carr? Maybe because of Flinn

Within a general review of the Republican U.S. Senate primary, Andy Sher has some commentary on why Joe Carr has been able to get “celebrity conservatives” (i.e., Laura Ingraham and Sarah Palin) to endorse him but not the arch-conservative national Super PACS with big money.

“We don’t have any intention of being involved in the Senate Republican primary in the state of Tennessee,” said Barney Keller, spokesman for the Club for Growth, which has backed any number of challengers to GOP incumbents.

Asked why, Keller would only say, “Sometimes we get involved in races and sometimes you don’t.”

The Senate Conservatives Fund did not respond to an email request for comment.

Nathan Gonzales, deputy editor of the Washington-based nonpartisan newsletter The Rothenberg Political Report, said these days one has to “pause before assuming that a sitting senator is just going to win a primary.

“But,” he added, “I’ll have to say it doesn’t look like there’s been the same consolidation of the support against the senator that we’ve kind of seen take place in the other races.”

Gonzales’ take is that Flinn’s being in the race has caused the largest groups “to pause about getting in” because they may perceive a “lack of consensus on the ground.”

Moreover, he said, “it is extremely difficult to beat an incumbent, particularly in a winner-take-all situation where you need to have everything to go right to thread the needle.”

In Tennessee, candidates don’t need a majority — 50 percent plus one person — to win an election. They can — and have — won with pluralities well below 50 percent. Outside groups’ calculation may be they “not only have to beat Lamar, but we have to beat Flinn, too,” Gonzales said.