Tag Archives: senate campaign

After Cantor and Cochran, is it tea party time in TN?

The defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia has tea party people excited in Tennessee and elsewhere, reports Michael Collins.

Cantor’s downfall, coupled with U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran being forced into a primary runoff against a tea party challenger in Mississippi, could energize Tennessee’s tea party movement, which has set its sights on another high-profile target, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander.

Alexander’s campaign said Wednesday that Brat’s David-vs.-Goliath victory over Cantor won’t change his own campaign strategy.

“Sen. Alexander is doing what he’s always done: staying connected with Tennessee and being the best senator he could be,” said his campaign spokesman, Brian Reisinger.

While Alexander’s team has been watching other races around the country, “every race runs on its own two legs,” said Tom Ingram, the senator’s former chief of staff and a general consultant to his campaign.

“Our race is a guy who has been serving Tennessee in the same hardworking, loyal fashion for years as governor and as a senator and staying connected, listening to and representing the interests of his constituents and trusting them to make the right decision on election day,” Ingram said.

Alexander’s most serious challenger in the Aug. 7 primary, state Rep. Joe Carr, interprets the tea party’s recent victories as signs of an energized, fed-up electorate.

“From Virginia to Mississippi, a transformational change is underway that is being led by a true grassroots movement,” Carr said in a statement shortly after Brat’s victory over Cantor.

The Carr campaign said it already is seeing signs of a rejuvenated tea party in Tennessee. “We have seen an influx over the last 12 hours of people signing up to volunteer, people coming into our office and wanting signs and bumper stickers, wanting to know how to help,” said Carr’s campaign manager, Donald Rickard. “It has really been overwhelming.”

Still, political analysts caution against drawing any parallels between Cantor’s and Cochran’s races and Alexander’s re-election bid.

For starters, national political figures haven’t rallied around Carr the way they did Cantor’s and Cochran’s opponents, said Bruce Oppenheimer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University.

While huge campaign spending could not save Cantor, money is more often than not a potent weapon in a political campaign, and one where Alexander has a significant advantage. Alexander’s campaign had more than $3 million in the bank at the end of March, the last period for which reports are on file with the Federal Election Commission. Carr, by contrast, had just $466,000.

Carr: Lamar Alexander is like Eric Cantor

In a broadcast interview today, state Rep. Joe Carr likened U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander to Eric Cantor, the House majority leader defeated in Tuesday’s Virginia Republican primary by a tea party-backed opponent, David Brat.

“I think Sen. Alexander has a similar problem that Leader Cantor had in that he’s out of touch with his Republican base in Tennessee,” Carr said on CNBC. (Note: Link to the video HERE)

Cantor had been attacked by Brat on immigration issues and Carr says there’s a similar distinction between himself as “architect and author of some of the strongest illegal immigration bills in Tennessee” and Alexander.

“The problem Lamar alexander has and so many of the establishment Republicans have, they are taking themselves away or are detracting from what the Republican National Committee platform in 2012 specifically says and when it says no amnesty at all for illegal immigrants,” he said. “It’s Lamar Alexaner who’s running away from the Republian platform and it’s conservatives in the tea party trying to embrace that Republican National Committee platform saying we need to be a country of laws where lawful citizens are welcome, but those who gained unlawful entry cannot come. “

Niceley backs Carr in news release; other legislators via donations

Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, endorsed state Rep. Joe Carr for the U.S. Senate last week, declaring in a news release distributed by Carr:

“Joe understands what it means to be a principled conservative and will hold to those values as our next senator. He will work to cut the size of the federal government and return many of those programs back to the states.”

In an interview, Niceley said he thinks Alexander “has done all right” in the past, but “it’s time for a fresh approach.” The state senator, who in the past legislative session unsuccessfully pushed a proposal to have state legislators pick U.S. Senate nominees rather than hold a primary election, said he also felt it appropriate that legislators support state legislators for the position.

Carr said in the news release that Tennesseans “value the judgment of the representatives that are closest to them and with Sen. Niceley’s support, they are beginning to get a picture of the type of campaign I plan on running — one focused on them at a grass-roots level.”

Rickard said in an email that other legislator endorsements of Carr will be forthcoming. Carr’s campaign disclosures show he already has several GOP lawmakers sending campaign donations — though Niceley isn’t listed. Among them are Sen. Stacey Campfield of Knoxville and Reps. David Alexander of Winchester, Glen Casada of Franklin, Dale Carr of Sevierville, Bill Dunn of Knoxville, Judd Matheny of Tullahoma, Bill Sanderson of Kenton, Andy Holt of Dresden, Mark Pody of Lebanon, Charles Sargent of Franklin and House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga.

(Note: See February post on Campfield seeking a refund of $5,200 sent to Carr. The refund still hasn’t been reported, but both men said last week that it’s still in the works.)

In most cases, the money was donated from the legislators’ own campaign accounts, in some, through political action committees the legislators operate.

(UPDATE/CORRECTION: McCormick advises that his contribution, through his PAC, was made while Carr was running for Congress, not the Senate, and that Carr has refunded the $500 contribution at his request. “I am supporting Lamar in his reelection effort,” McCormick said.)

Alexander, on the other hand, has been endorsed by the Legislature’s top leaders, Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell, as well as all Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation, Gov. Bill Haslam and all 13 living former chairmen of the Tennessee Republican Party.

Note: The full Carr news release is below
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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.”

Alexander poll claims 56-14 lead over Joe Carr

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s campaign says its latest poll shows the incumbent with a 56 percent to 14 percent lead over his best-known Republican primary challenger, state Rep. Joe Carr, with 22 percent undecided.

Here’s the memo distributed to media:

To: Steve Smith, Finance Chairman
Alexander for Senate
From: Whit Ayres, President
North Star Opinion Research
Date: May 15, 2014
Re: Alexander Holds At Least 4-to-1 Lead Over Any Republican Primary Opponent

Our firm conducted a survey of 600 likely Republican primary voters in Tennessee from May 12-14, 2014. The sample was drawn from past Republican primary voters, and all respondents indicated that they are either absolutely certain or very likely to vote in the Republican primary for federal and state offices this year. Calls were conducted using live interviewers, and 30 percent of the interviews were completed on cell phones. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.0 percent. Following are highlights of that survey.

1. Senator Alexander holds at least a 4-to-1 lead over any Republican primary opponent.

Alexander stands at 56 percent in a full ballot test, compared to 14 percent for Joe Carr, no more than 2 percent each for the six other opponents, and 22 percent undecided.

2. Senator Alexander’s opponents remain unknown to the overwhelming majority of Republican primary voters.

Sixty-seven percent of primary voters have never heard of Joe Carr, almost identical to the 70 percent who had never heard of him in February. Eighty-four percent have never heard of Fred Anderson, 85 percent have never heard of George Shea Flinn, 91 percent have never heard of John D. King, 92 percent have never heard of Christian Agnew, 93 percent have never heard of Brenda S. Lenard, and 95 percent have never heard of Erin Kent Magee.

3. Senator Alexander continues to hold high job approval ratings across the state and among key subgroups of the primary electorate. Statewide Alexander’s job approval is 66 to 28 percent, including 70 to 22 percent in East Tennessee, 61 to 36 percent in Middle Tennessee, and 64 to 26 percent in West Tennessee. Strong Republicans approve of his job performance by 72 to 22 percent, as do evangelical Christians by 65 to 27 percent, and very conservative voters by 62 to 33 percent.

This campaign looks essentially the same today as it did in August of 2013 and February of this year. Senator Alexander remains in a very strong position to win the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.

Note: Here’s an emailed response from Donald Rickard, Carr’s campaign manager:
“After seeing what happened this week in Nebraska, it’s not surprising that Senator Alexander and his campaign are very worried about the threat that Joe Carr and Tennessee conservatives pose to his re-election. Why else would he release numbers this early? As this campaign unfolds and Joe invests in informing Tennessee voters about Sen. Alexander’s support for Common Core, the bail-out of Wall Street and amnesty – the environment surrounding this race will shift significantly.”

Alexander dodging Common Core commentary?

Tennessee U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander has been doing his best to avoid saying he supports Common Core education standards, observes WPLN.

In recent months, Alexander has appeared alongside Governor Bill Haslam as a show of solidarity for Tennessee’s use of Common Core. But the standards are also a political liability in the current climate, even for someone like Alexander who is expected to have a fairly easy time keeping his seat.

“I always choose my words carefully,” Alexander said Monday – with a laugh – when asked if he was being careful how he talks about Common Core.

The two-term senator and former Secretary of Education has carefully crafted how he talks about Common Core. He says he supports higher standards and that the state should have the final say.

“It ought to be 100 percent [the legislature and Governor Haslam’s] decision,” Alexander said Monday. “I think almost all of the problem that’s created by the new academic standards has come because of the perception and fact that Washington is involved in it.”

Note: Joe Carr, one of Alexander’s main GOP primary opponents, is on the other hand happy to bring up the subject of Common Core. See, for example, previous post HERE.
UPDATE NOTE: A reader points out a YouTube video of Carr asking himself why he voted for Common Core legislation back in 2009. It’s HERE.

Carr acknowledges foulup on financial disclosure

State Rep. Joe Carr acknowledges that he made an error in a belated filing of a personal financial disclosure as a U.S. Senate candidate, reports the Chattanooga TFP.

On Monday, Carr said he failed to list his family’s 91-acre cattle ranch as an asset on his personal finance reports to the secretary of the Senate purely in error. And he noted that the farm was listed as a liability on the same report.

“Those Senate disclosures are a balance sheet. It was listed as a liability, but not as an asset. It was just an error. We will file an amendment and get it listed properly,” Carr said after speaking to members of the Hamilton County Pachyderm Club on Monday.

Carr was nine months late filing his personal disclosure. He filed Friday, but the deadline was 30 days after he announced his candidacy for the Senate seat last August. Carr previously was seeking to challenge U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., for the District 4 House seat. Last week, Donald Rickard, Carr’s campaign manager, said the late filing was also simply an oversight.

Rutherford County tax records show Carr owns two parcels of land that total 91 acres, valued at $418,900.

In his report filed last week — which requires candidates to list assets using broad figures — Carr claimed $31,000 to $115,000 in assets.

Meanwhile, Alexander has about a month to file his personal disclosure for 2013. The incumbent’s 2012 filing showed his net worth as being between $9.8 million and $15.4 million.

Poll shows Alexander and Haslam favored to beat Democratic challengers!

Rasmussen has polled in Tennessee and reports the surprising news that Lamar Alexander (or Joe Carr) and Bill Haslam are both likely to beat Democratic opponents in November.

Here are the teaser comments from Rasmussen’s public website and links if you wish to pay to seek the full poll results. (I’m holding off until, maybe, they do a Republican primary poll.)

Lamar leads Democrats
Incumbent Senator Lamar Alexander and his Republican primary challenger Joe Carr both far outdistance the top two Democratic hopefuls in Tennessee’s U.S. Senate race, but Alexander is the stronger of the two GOP candidates.

A new Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Tennessee Voters finds that Alexander earns 50% support versus Democrat Terry Adams’ 26%. Ten percent (10%) like some other candidate, while 15% are undecided. (Gordon Ball is a weaker candidate, having 25 percent support, instead of 26, versus Alexander in a November matchup.) Link HERE. Alas, they don’t even tease with the Carr versus Adams or Ball results.

Haslam leads Democrat
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has a commanding lead over his leading potential Democratic challenger in Tennessee’s 2014 gubernatorial race.

A new Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Tennessee Voters shows Haslam picking up 57% of the vote to former Sullivan County Commissioner John McKamey’s 27%. Five percent (5%) prefer some other candidate in the race, while 11% are undecided. Link HERE.

Joe Carr belatedly files financial disclosure required of U.S. Senate candidates

Nearly nine months after launching his campaign to try to unseat U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., state Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, on Friday belatedly filed the personal financial disclosure forms required of all Senate candidates. This came, reports the Chattanooga TFP, after the newspaper asked Carr about the filing.

Carr’s campaign manager, Donald Rickard, said the lack of filing “was an oversight on our part and as soon as it was brought to our attention we worked on fixing the error.” By not filing the financial disclosure within 30 days of his entry into the Senate campaign last August, Carr could be fined $200 by the secretary of the Senate.

Viveca Novak, communications director for the Center for Responsive Politics, said such filings “are important for voters to see what interests candidates have and where their money comes from” in deciding among those running for Congress.

The U.S. Senate web site shows only a half dozen of the 23 announced candidates for U.S. Senate in Tennessee have yet to file their personal financial disclosure forms, although several still have time to file since they only recently entered the race.

But Carr announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate in August 2013after he gave up his earlier campaign for the U.S. House seat held by Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn. In that contest last year, Carr also didn’t file the required financial disclosure forms.

The disclosure form showed most of Carr’s income last year came from his salary and per diem allowances as a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives. Carr listed a salary from the state of $28,321.76,

Carr says in his campaign website that he and his wife, Ginny, own Cedar Snag Farm, a 95-acre farm near Murfreesboro, and he describes himself as a farmer and small businessman.

But the disclosure shows he earned only $2,14.90 last year from cattle sales. In 2013, Carr also worked as a business and marketing consultant for an automotive repair company in Murfreesboro known as TCB, which paid him $19,000 last year.

Was the 6th Circuit (or the AG) listening to Joe Carr and the TN House?

(Note: The post below, reporting on the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to vacate a temporary injunction requiring Tennessee to recognize the same-sex marriages of three couples married in other states, reminds yours truly of an oversight in the hectic windup of the 2014 legislative session — failure to note the House approval of a resolution condemning the U.S. District Court in Nashville for granting that preliminary injunction.)

The resolution was sponsored by Rep. Joe Carr, who is also running for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination. It also urges the state attorney general to “vigorously and zealously” oppose the ruling of U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger, which Carr declared was in “complete defiance of the Tennessee constitution” mandating that all marriages be between a man and a woman.

Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville, declaring the resolution “a little bit excessive,” offered eight amendments to change the words “vigorously and zealously” in various ways. Examples for substitution “forcefully and energetically” to “bombastically” and — her apparent preference — ““half-heartedly and lackadaisically.” But, over Jones’ protests, debate was shut off on a 63-22 party-line vote and the resolution was then approved 75-15, with all no votes coming from Democrats.

However, the resolution never passed the Senate and, since it was a “joint” resolution, that means the court wasn’t officially condemned and the attorney general wasn’t officially urged. But, hey, maybe the attorney general was vigorous and zealous in response anyway — the 6th Circuit temporarily blocked Trauger’s temporary injunction.

Note 2: Carr’s news release, including it;s links to video of the debate and a copy of the resolution, are below.
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