In a continued push for a debate with Republican Lamar Alexander, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Gordon Ball has challenged the incumbent to something of a “duel.”
“I’m from Cocke County, where we actually do own guns. So I’m going to issue a challenge to Mr. Alexander: his piano versus my Glock,” Ball told the state’s Democratic party executive committee in Nashville on Saturday. “Democrats are gun owners, too,” he said.
Ball made the comments, which were reported over the weekend by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, a couple days after getting a failing grade from the National Rifle Association — although the Knoxville trial lawyer claims the nation’s largest gun-lobby group never contacted him before issuing him an “F” for his commitment to protecting the Second Amendment.
For its part, NRA maintains it sent the Knoxville Democrat a questionnaire that was never answered.
Ball has been challenging Alexander to appear a few paces away from him on a debate stage so the two can exchange close-quarters fire over gun rights and other issues.
Ball also wants to confront Alexander on his voting record since President Obama has taken office, which his argues has been aligned with the White House much more closely than the third-term seeking GOP incumbent likes to let on. The Tennessee Republican Party has lately been hammering Ball as a supporter of Obama’s “liberal agenda.”
In addition to being untrustworthy on protecting the right to bear arms, the TNGOP is asserting that Ball is a candidate for organized labor. Republicans say that’s evidenced by national union leaders discussing their plans to get out the vote for Democrats in, among other states, Tennessee, where they want to defeat Alexander.
A call Friday requesting comment from the Ball campaign was not returned.
Alexander is the ranking Republican on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. If Republicans win majority control of the Senate in November he’d be in line to become chairman.
Alexander has announced he’s co-sponsoring legislation to mix up the makeup of the National Labor Relations Board, which currently includes three Democratic appointees and two Republican. The former Tennessee governor wants NLRB membership expanded to six and mandated to evenly reflect America’s two dominant political parties. That’ll make the board more “an umpire rather than an advocate,” Alexander believes.
Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, is joining Alexander in the push to shake up the NLRB. Like Alexander, McConnell has drawn his own vocally pro-gun Democratic challenger in Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Alexander and ball are scheduled to appear at a Tennessee Farm Bureau candidate’s forum in Cookeville next month.
During the forum, which will not be a debate format, candidates will be provided with questions and given an amount of time to respond, as well as time for opening and closing statements, a spokesman for the Farm Bureau said in an email Monday.