Just hours before election day the GOP primary contest between incumbent U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and Tea-Party-backed state Rep. Joe Carr is still a tough call. Both candidates claim the winds of momentum are blowing in their favor, and there’s fair reason to conclude at this late hour that anything can still happen.
Although a poll released last week by the Alexander campaign showed the longtime politician besting his closest opponent by more than two-to-one, Carr contended at a “Beat Lamar” rally in East Ridge over the weekend that the race is “very, very, very close.”
According to Carr, he’s recently been contacted by four members of the Tennessee General Assembly working on his behalf, who have all told him that from what they’ve seen, he’s winning, and that “two out of three voters” are in his corner.
Carr, a three-term Republican state representative from Lascassas, is challenging the political powerhouse of Alexander, a two-term U.S. Senator, former Tennessee governor, former U.S. Department of Education secretary and two-time candidate for president.
Both campaigns have touted their recent endorsements as evidence of their conservative credentials, as well as their penchant for getting things done.
Alexander’s endorsements run deep. He was backed recently by two former chairmen of the American Conservative Union — Al Cardenas and David Keene. Keene is also a former president of the National Rifle Association. Additionally, Alexander has been supported by many Republican leaders in the state, such as Gov. Bill Haslam and former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson.
In his criticism of Alexander, Carr has done his best to tie the incumbent to the policies of the Obama administration, such as Obamacare and immigration reform.
Much of Carr’s attack on his opponent’s Conservative credentials focused on Alexander’s support of what all seven Republican members of Tennessee’s congressional delegation called “amnesty.”
Alexander has defended his vote for the legislation, arguing that voting against the bill was really a vote for amnesty.
Meanwhile, although campaigning for a third term, Alexander has paid little attention to Carr, other than one mailer sent out in Middle Tennessee — Carr’s own turf — criticizing the state-level politician over a vote for Common Core in relation to the state applying for “Race to the Top” funds.
Carr has said that he was not proud of having made that vote, and in a interview with The Murfreesboro Post last year characterized it as “a choice between a really bad vote and a really bad vote.”
And, although Alexander has been a recent vocal critic of the Obama Administration’s handling of the immigration crisis, according to The Washington Post, Alexander said that he hasn’t heard much talk about immigration from his constituency.
“We have a chance to have a Republican majority in the United State Senate. I’d like to be a part of that majority, send a message to President Obama, fix the debt, fix our borders, return education decisions back to the states and replace Obamacare,” Alexander said to reporters Wednesday, at a campaign event in Chattanooga with Haslam and Republican U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann.