In the David-and-Goliath matchup for one of Tennessee’s U.S. Senate seats, Goliath won.
Incumbent Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, who is seeking his third six-year term in Congress, beat Middle Tennessee state Rep. Joe Carr by close to 10 percentage points in the Republican primary Thursday, 49.7-40.5. The Tennessee secretary of state’s vote-tracking website showed Alexander with 328,315 ballots cast in his favor to 269,021 for Carr.
A third-place finisher, George Flinn, picked up 34,421 votes, or 5.2 percent.
In a victory speech before his jubilant campaign troops, Alexander said that if he wins in November he’s going to be encouraging politicians in Washington to take note of how pragmatically Republicans are running Tennessee. He said the results have been that the state is making great strides in improving education, has low debt and is creating jobs.
“The absence of that kind of get-it-done leadership in Washington is why our borders and our debt are out of control, and we have a mess with our health care policy, and why it is so hard to find a job,” he said. “So what I hope to do in a new term in Washington is more what I tried to do as governor and what Gov. (Bill) Haslam does here — which is recognize that if we want to change Obamacare, we are going to have to pass something, If we want to fix the debt, we are going to have to pass something, and to do that we are going to have to work with other people to get it done.”
After reciting a few lines from the Declaration of Independence, Carr said in his concession speech that “while the battle is lost tonight, it wasn’t the first battle and it won’t be the last battle.”
“What we are fighting for is the heart and soul of America — the very thing that our founders said when they wrote those words in the Declaration of Independence,” said Carr, who had sought to galvanize Tea-Party conservative dissatisfaction with Alexander. “I have said it over and over and over again, I wish those were my words, but they are not my words. Those are the words of our founding fathers 238 years ago. That’s why we are here now.”
Alexander goes on as a heavy favorite to face Knoxville attorney Gordon Ball in the November general election. Ball bested his closest opponent, Knoxville attorney Terry Adams, by a little more than 2,000 votes, according to the state’s voting tally.
The Democratic Party’s would-be giant-killer will now step into the ring against the Alexander juggernaut, and he said in a statement Thursday night he’s accustomed to and relishing “playing David against Goliath.”
“Unlike Lamar Alexander, I worked my way through college, delivering pizzas in Johnson City, and I worked my way through law school loading trucks at night on Florida Street in Memphis,” he said. Ball added, “While Senator Alexander has been a public employee for five decades, catering to lobbyists, and becoming a wealthy politician – I’ve been building a record in the real world where it counts. It is because of this experience that I can say that I will be ready on DAY ONE after being sworn-in to debate and vote on tough, complex issues as a United States Senator. My life’s work has prepared me for this.”