A political action committee that specializes in taking on incumbent Republicans attacked U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander Monday over reports that his campaign worked with the Tennessee State Museum to organize a traveling exhibit about him, notes the Tennessean.
The head of the Senate Conservatives Fund, a PAC that helped Rand Paul and Ted Cruz win seats in the Senate, accused Alexander of “political favor swapping” and said the organization is working with others in Tennessee to find a challenger to the two-term senator before next summer’s GOP primary.
The group was reacting to news that Alexander’s campaign manager, Alice Rolli, was involved in discussing plans for the traveling exhibit even as the senator was gearing up his re-election effort, and also that Alexander successfully pushed through $400,000 in federal funding for the museum in 2009. (Note: Recent story HERE) The exhibit was postponed until after 2015 — so it won’t be on display until Alexander has stood for re-election — after those discussions became public.
The involvement of the Senate Conservatives Fund increases the chances that he will face a primary challenge. Founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican who emerged as a leading voice of tea party conservatives, the fund has a history of working aggressively to defeat sitting Republicans senators — often to the chagrin of other party members.
“We think he is out of step with the state,” said Matt Hoskins, the PAC’s executive director. “We want to make sure that voters in Tennessee have an opportunity to vote for somebody who represents their values.”
The Senate Conservatives Fund raised and spent nearly $16 million during the 2012 election cycle and it spent $8 million during the 2010 campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Paul and Cruz were among the winners it backed, as well as Utah’s Mike Lee and Florida’s Marco Rubio.
The group’s goal is to increase conservative representation in the Senate, but it also has supported a host of unsuccessful Senate candidates, including Sharron Angle in Nevada, Christine O’Donnell in Delaware and Todd Akin in Missouri, all ultimately defeated by Democrats. DeMint left the organization when he resigned from the Senate to become president of the Heritage Foundation.
So far, the Senate Conservatives Fund has raised about $1.4 million for the 2014 election. Much of its work has been focused on Sen. Mitch McConnell, but the organization sees Alexander as a potential target.
Note: The Alexander attack news release is below.