Tea party groups plan to conduct “auditions” for prospective 2014 challengers to Sen. Lamar Alexander during August and September, reports Andy Sher as part of an overview story on the incumbent Republican’s re-election campaign.
Of course, all things considered, the chances look very good for Alexander’s reelection. He’s got some $3 million in cash on hand. He’s raising more. And he’s already running ads.
Alexander last week said he thinks things are going well.
“The last public surveys I’ve seen … showed I had a slightly higher approval rating from people aligned with the tea party than I did even with the Republicans,” Alexander said.
He cited a May poll by Vanderbilt University showing him with a 53 percent general job approval rating, with 60 percent support from Republicans and 62 percent from self-identified tea partiers.
The overall poll had a 4 percent margin of error. The margin of error was higher in sub categories.
“I’m just going to do the best I can as a senator and respect the right of everybody else to believe whatever they want,” Alexander said.
He touted the “hundreds of conservative Middle Tennessee Republicans” who attended his rally Saturday.
State Rep. Joe Carr tells the Daily News Journal that state law prevents him from seeking reelection to his state House District 48 seat while he’s running for Congress – along with incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais and state Sen. Jim Tracy.
Tracy is in the middle of a four-year Senate term and thus can run for Congress without giving up his seat in the Legislature. The article notes this and also quotes Carr as otherwise contrasting himself with Tracy.
An excerpt: Carr confirmed he was not seeking re-election to the Tennessee General Assembly a couple of days after Rutherford County Commissioner Adam Coggin announced candidacy for the 48th District seat.
Carr said that he talked to Coggin and two others about their interest in succeeding him as a GOP lawmaker in Nashville.
“It will be a contested primary,” Carr said. “I hope the House 48th District is a referendum on my job performance and the way I conducted myself.”
…”Does the district want a fighter like I’ve tried to be for them or do they want somebody who is more of a compromiser?” Carr asked. “I am interested to see if the voters of the 48th are going to put in somebody who is committed to being that vocal principled fighter or do they want somebody who is more of a get along, go along type of legislator? That’s the choice. I am interested in seeing what choice they make, but I will not be on the ballot as a state representative.”
Excerpt from a Politico article on how Republican U.S. senators – Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander being a prime example – are working diligently to assure they don’t face a serious primary challenger in 2014. “I’m running a Colin Powell military operation, which is assemble an overwhelming force, focus on a single target and have the stomach to see it all the way through to the end,” Alexander said in an interview.
The recent Washington controversies are giving the senators a unique opportunity to woo the right — whether it’s McConnell’s rhetoric against the Internal Revenue Service, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) railing at the White House for its handling of the Benghazi attacks or Alexander slamming Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for soliciting private donations to help with the implementation of Obamacare, comparing the situation to the Iran-Contra scandal.
And some of the senators are finding ways to push issues in Washington that resonate back home, including last week, when the Senate passed a McConnell-Alexander plan they called the Freedom to Fish Act targeting federal restrictions along a river their states share.
…Alexander ended the first quarter of 2013 with $1.8 million in cash and has stepped up his fundraising considerably since then. Last month, he pulled in $430,000 at a dinner at the Chattanooga home of his fellow GOP senator, Bob Corker, just days before a Nashville fundraiser pulled in $1 million more. Alexander later secured an additional $530,000 at a dinner on May 2 in Memphis, officials said.
…In this race, Alexander clearly recognized a primary as his biggest threat and wasted no time locking up support within his own ranks. Less than a month after the 2012 elections, Alexander had awarded campaign chairmanships to every Republican in the congressional delegation except Rep. Scott DesJarlais, who was ensnared in a sex scandal. Other big name Republicans in the state who could give him a serious scare in a primary were added as well, including Gov. Bill Haslam, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and state House Speaker Beth Harwell.
Alexander even won the endorsements of the 13 living past GOP party chairs in Tennessee.
“He said if it’s necessary he would get some who were deceased, too,” Corker quipped.
With some charm and back-slapping, Alexander is also trying to ensure no state legislator emerges against him, either. After the state legislative session earlier this year, Alexander hosted a Nashville reception for state GOP lawmakers. And that came after he addressed the GOP-dominated Legislature with a red-meat speech attacking Washington mandates.
After 12 minutes of “easy questions,” Gov. Bill Haslam was asked about the Pilot Flying J investigation during a summit on manufacturing in Washington last week “to give you the chance if you want to say anything,” reports Chris Carroll.
“Oh, well, thanks,” Haslam murmured. “I guess.”
When the laughter died down, the governor offered a full-throated defense of the family business, but Jordan’s question prompted a pained hesitation that may redefine Haslam as political opponents search for chinks in his armor.
…Democrats already are connecting the FBI investigation with an old fight with Haslam. Soon after taking office, the governor rolled back financial disclosure rules for himself and other top officials. That meant he didn’t have to disclose his assets, many of which originated with Pilot.
“I thought it was a mistake before the FBI raid. I think it’s a double mistake to continue down that path now,” Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron said. “I don’t think any of us know how severe the conflicts are or how much he’s personally profited from what appear to be — what apparently the FBI thinks — were wrongful actions.”
..In an interview after the Washington Post event, Haslam emphasized the ongoing nature of the investigation, saying he has “no doubt that the top management of the company always intends to do the right thing.”
“No night sweats,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’m going to run a re-election campaign based on what I’ve done as governor.”
Like Ingram, Haslam stressed that it’s been more than a decade since he played a direct role in the company. (Note: Tom Ingram is a political consultant to Bill Haslam and has been retained as a PR consultant to Pilot Flying J and CEO Jimmy Haslam during the federal investigation.)
“It’s been so long since I’ve worked there that a whole lot of the folks that are mentioned [in the affidavit] are people I don’t even know,” he said.
The governor made that statement six hours before The Tennessean newspaper published a story that implied otherwise. The newspaper identified 10 Pilot executives in the FBI affidavit who gave a total of $56,000 to Haslam in campaign contributions.
… (Democratic party tweets cited: “Nine Pilot executives mentioned in the FBI affidavit gave a combined $56k to @BillHaslam’s campaign.” “Gov. @BillHaslam, political campaign directly benefited from Pilot Flying J’s scheme to cheat truckers, small biz.”)
In response to the Tennessean report, a Haslam spokesman stressed the governor’s army of contributors and said, “It’s natural that a Pilot employee would be one of those.”
…Chattanooga Tea Party President Mark West said he thought the government’s aggressive approach means there’s something sinister behind the scenes. Some have speculated pure politics; leading the investigation is Bill Killian, the U.S. attorney in East Tennessee appointed in 2010 by President Barack Obama.
“It’s more than likely politically motivated,” West said.
Haslam rejected that outright.
“I’m not typically a conspiracy-theorist type of guy,” he said, “and I’m not in this either.
News release from Sen. Lamar Alexander’s reelection campaign:
NASHVILLE, TN – Senator Lamar Alexander’s re-election campaign today announced that the campaign raised more than $1 million in the first quarter.
“As senator and governor, Lamar Alexander has been standing up for Tennessee and we are ready to stand up for him. We raised more than $1 million in only 10 weeks and we are on pace to double that amount in the next quarter,” said Alexander for Senate Finance Chairman Steve Smith.
In April and May the campaign will hold four major Tennessee fundraising events. The first will take place at the home of Senator Corker in Chattanooga. Also in April the campaign will hold the “Salute to Ted Welch,” the former Republican National Finance Committee chairman who serves as Alexander’s Honorary Finance Chairman. Other events will take place during May in Knoxville and Memphis.
Gov. Bill Haslam raised nearly $1.3 million at a Knoxville fundraiser in early January and now has a little more than $2 million in his 2014 re-election campaign fund, reports Georgiana Vines. The information is included in a financial disclosure filed Thursday with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance that covers a period from July 2012 through January.
The money raised in Knoxville was the kickoff to the Republican’s re-election bid. It was held at Scripps Networks Interactive, whose president, chairman of the board and CEO is Ken Lowe. The report showed Lowe contributed $7,200 to the primary and general elections, which will be held in 2014.
Scripps Networks is separate from The E.W. Scripps Co., which owns the News Sentinel.
The campaign had $195,900 at the beginning of the reporting period, with another $1,960,135 raised through Jan. 8, when a blackout period began for legislative and gubernatorial candidates while the Legislature is in session.
Haslam, a former Knoxville mayor, reported $74,314 in expenses, covering everything from salaries for campaign workers to the costs of fundraisers.
Contributors from Knoxville who gave the individual maximum of $7,200 include Charles Anderson and his wife, Molly; Randy Boyd, the governor’s recently appointed adviser on higher education, and his wife, Jenny; James and Kay Clayton; Pete and Cindi DeBusk; Greg and Jennifer Dunn; Mark and Joanne Hazelwood; Graham Hunter; James and Whitney Johnson; Raja and Michelle Jubran; Fred Langley; Edward and Jeanie Sims; and members of the Haslam family, including Jim and Natalie Haslam, his father and stepmother; Jim Haslam III, his brother, and wife, Dee; Ann Bailey, his sister, and her husband, Steve; Will Haslam, his son, and wife, Hannah, and Leigh Haslam, his daughter.
Political action committees that contributed $10,700 for the primary and general elections include: Adams and Reese of Nashville; AT&T Tennessee; Community Health Systems Professional SVCS Corp. in Franklin; Eastman State of Tennessee in Bristol; Nissan in Franklin; and United for Health PAC of Tennessee, based in Washington, D.C.
Gov. Bill Haslam says he’ll get his 2014 reelection campaign underway with at least two fundraisers – one in Knoxville and one in Nashville – before the legislative session begins in January.
The governor was asked Monday about House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh’s statement that he is considering a run for governor in 2014. He said “Craig has every right” to make the campaign, but it doesn’t alter his own plans.
“We’ve always intended to have a vigorous campaign,” he said, declaring plans for the two fundraisers. He gave no details of the events.
“I’ve always intends to do this regardless of the circumstances,” Haslam said.
Under state law, the governor and state legislators are prohibited from political fundraising while the General Assembly is in session. The session starts on Jan. 8.
The Republican governor’s plans for an early start contrast with Ripley Democrat Fitzhugh’s vow to put off launch as campaign as long as he can in the belief “the shorter the better.” Fitzhugh also said he recognizes Haslam has high popularity ratings and “deep pockets” to run a campaign, but believes Democrats need a candidate to “rally around” at the top of the ticket in 2014.
— Note: Previous post HERE.
Top staffers of U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais and Sen. Lamar Alexander mutually agreed that the 4th District congressman would not hold a position in the senator’s reelection campaign along with other Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation, an Alexander spokesman said Wednesday.
“Both decided it would be a distraction,” said Jim Jefferies, referring to the Washington chiefs of staff of Alexander and DesJarlais.
Jefferies declined to elaborate. He would not say, for example, if Alexander and DesJarlais personally went along with the decision made by Matt Sonneysyn, Alexander’s chief of staff, and Matt Miller, DesJarlais’ chief of staff.
Since DesJarlais was reelected Nov. 6, transcripts from testimony at his divorce trial 12 years ago have been made public that indicate he assented to two abortions for his ex-wife and acknowleged sexual relations with female patients of his medical practice. That has added to controversy over pre-election allegations of DesJarlais encouraging a mistress to have an abortion.
In announcing his reelection team last weekend, Alexander named U.S. Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan of Knoxville as chairman of his campaign. Gov. Bill Haslam, House Speaker Beth Harwell, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, Sen. Bob Corker and all of Tennessee’s Republican U.S. Representatives – except DesJarlais – were named honorary co-chairmen.
News release from Sen. Lamar Alexander campaign:
NASHVILLE–Sen. Lamar Alexander told members of the Republican State Executive Committee here today that Congressman John J. Duncan, Jr., will chair his 2014 re-election campaign.
Alexander also announced that campaign honorary co-chairs will be Gov. Bill Haslam, Sen. Bob Corker, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, House Speaker Beth Harwell, along with Congressmen Marsha Blackburn, Phil Roe, Diane Black, Stephen Fincher and Chuck Fleischmann.
At press conferences with Alexander in Nashville and Knoxville, Duncan said, “Lamar is a good Republican and good conservative who stands up for Tennesseans. We know and trust him to do what needs to be done.”
Alexander said, “Jimmy Duncan is a strong conservative voice for fiscal discipline. I am grateful that he will chair my campaign and that so many of the state’s other Republican leaders will be honorary co-chairmen.”
“Our country has serious problems to solve,” Alexander said. “We must fix the debt and move more decisions out of Washington. We must find better ways to help Americans move from the back of the line to the front in our struggling economy. It is time to stop making speeches and to start getting results.”
Alexander will be seeking his third six-year term in the United States Senate. His colleagues have elected him three times as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. In the next Congress, he will be the senior Republican on committees concerning education, health, and energy appropriations.
Alexander has served two terms as Tennessee’s governor and was chairman of the National Governors Association. He was chairman of President Reagan’s Commission on Americans Outdoors, President of the University of Tennessee and President George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of Education.
In private life, he and his wife, Honey, helped found what has become the nation’s largest provider of worksite day care.
The Alexanders have four children and six grandchildren. He is a Presbyterian elder.
News release from National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund:
Fairfax, Va. – The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) is endorsing Bob Corker for U.S. Senate in Tennessee.
“Bob Corker has fought to protect our Second Amendment rights,” said Chris W. Cox, chairman of NRA-PVF. “His strong voting record has earned him an “A” rating from the NRA-PVF, and we proudly endorse him for re-election to the U.S. Senate.”
Bob Corker voted against confirming anti-Second Amendment Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, and joined the historic briefs filed before the U.S. Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago, which argued that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental, individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Tennessee or anywhere else in America. Senator Corker signed bipartisan letters opposing any international treaty by the United Nations or any other global organization that would impose restrictions on American gun owners. He also voted for the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity amendment, which would have ensured that law-abiding Americans with a valid concealed handgun permit would have been able to carry a concealed handgun in any other state that does not prohibit concealed carry.
“We need senators like Bob Corker to continue defending our rights,” continued Cox. “We urge all NRA members, gun owners, and sportsmen in Tennessee to vote Bob Corker for U.S. Senate on November 6.”
Chris W. Cox is NRA’s chief lobbyist. He also serves as chairman of NRA-PVF. The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund is responsible for political candidate ratings and endorsements. These are based on candidate voting records, public statements and responses to NRA-PVF questionnaires.