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Alexander Defends Immigration Stance

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander has been criticized this campaign season for voting in favor of a bill referred to by conservatives as “amnesty” for illegal immigrants.

But the two-term incumbent has defended his vote in favor of the legislation, and said that he’d in fact “voted to end amnesty” for undocumented workers.

Last summer, GOP primary candidate Joe Carr issued a press release that took Sen. Alexander to task on the issue. The Carr press release noted that all seven Republican members of the state’s U.S. House delegation have released statements in opposition to the so-called “amnesty” bill, which was “was written by Sen. Chuck Schumer, endorsed by Nancy Pelosi and backed by La Raza and the Chamber of Commerce.”

Alexander’s position on S. 744 was named by Carr as one of the chief reasons he didn’t feel comfortable giving his former primary opponent an endorsement in the November general election.

Alexander has also sparred over the issue with his Democratic opponent, Knoxville attorney Gordon Ball.

In mid-September, Ball, promoting himself as a moderate Democrat and seeking the support of Alexander’s critics from the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party, accused the Maryville Republican of supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants.

The topic came up again when the two candidates met in their only joint appearance of the election season, at the Oct. 16 Tennessee Farm Bureau Candidates Forum. The Senator defended the legislation he voted for, which he said was initially recommended to him by the TN Farm Bureau.

Alexander also pointed out that while the legislation he supported included penalties for those here illegally and didn’t contain a pathway to citizenship, the policy that Ball voices support for on his campaign website has no penalties for immigrants coming into the country without federal government permission and includes such a pathway.

According to Ball’s website, he supports “common sense immigration reform” that would uphold border security and existing labor laws, as well as giving undocumented immigrants a “path to citizenship” that would “require them to pay taxes and be registered.”

Alexander said at the candidates’ forum earlier this month, “I voted to end amnesty,” which he accused Ball of supporting.

“The definition of amnesty is a path to citizenship, with no penalty,” Alexander said.

Ball later questioned Alexander’s credibility on any immigration issues, noting in an email to TNReport that the incumbent senator skipped a recent vote on a border funding.

“I’ve never gotten to vote for any legislation and he’s had 12 years. He didn’t even show up,” Ball said in an e-mail.

In late July, Senate Republicans, led by Alabama’s Jeff Sessions, voted to kill the border funding bill, which they said would not prevent Pres. Barack Obama from granting temporary amnesty and work permits for illegal immigrants. Although Alexander was not present for the vote, the bill was successfully defeated when Senate Democrats couldn’t muster enough votes waive a point of order raised by Sessions.

Alexander Hasn’t Won Carr Over

Incumbent Sen. Lamar Alexander came away from the Republican primary in August with a comfortable margin separating him from state Rep. Joe Carr, the challenger who received the second-most votes in the race.

Carr only captured 40.6 percent of the vote, and in a field of mostly unknown challengers — five others besides Carr — Alexander took the nomination with 49.65 percent.

But Alexander’s 331,705 vote total constituted just under half the total 668,039 cast — meaning more GOP primary voters favored someone other than Alexander than were for him.

Only 240,949 votes were cast in the Democratic primary, which was won by Gordon Ball, a Knoxville trial lawyer attorney whom Alexander paints as an ally of the Obama administration and various liberal special-interest groups that traditionally align with the Democratic Party.

Alexander is running a campaign that centers on convincing Tennessee general election voters he’ll be a dependable vote against Barack Obama’s agenda during the president’s last two years in the White House.

But Alexander has yet to win over his highest-profile critic in the Republican Party. Carr told TNReport he’s not ready to endorse Alexander — and likely won’t until the incumbent Republican comes out strongly against Common Core and promises to fight “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants.

“It’s not up to me. It’s up to Sen. Alexander,” Carr said, adding that he’s had no communication with Alexander personally since the two met at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Rutherford County earlier this month. At that meeting, Carr said they talked about issues and he accepted Alexander’s apology for not taking Carr’s primary election-night phone calls to congratulate him on winning.

The ball’s in his court,” Carr said.

As for Alexander promising to earn a reputation as an impediment to Obama’s policies and programs going forward,  Carr told TNReport he has “no idea” what the campaign or the state Republican Party are talking about in that regard.

I will be as excited and intrigued as every other voter in Tennessee to see this strange turn of events,” said Carr, whose principle primary campaign theme was that Alexander’s been more friend than foe to Obama these last six years. 

Carr pointed to Alexander’s backing of various Obama administration initiatives and appointments as evidence he’s never really applied himself consistently or wholeheartedly to thwarting the president’s will.

The announcement last week that Attorney General Eric Holder is stepping down offered a prime example of how Alexander has often tended to earnestly award his trust to President Obama — even to the point of siding with liberal Democrats and against conservative Republicans — only to claim he regrets it later.

Alexander, who was one of 18 Republicans who joined with 55 Senate Democratic to confirm Holder in 2009, said in a statement that when it comes time for the president to pick Holder’s replacement, he hopes Obama “will nominate an attorney general this time who will faithfully apply the laws Congress has passed and not seek to impose policies the president wishes Congress had passed. The role of the top law enforcement officer in the country is to enforce the law—not to advance the president’s agenda.”

It should have been clear to Alexander during the confirmation process — and indeed it was to 21 other Republicans in the U.S. Senate — that Holder was going to be a problematic figure among conservatives, Carr suggested. Holder’s political aims, his ambitions and his performance as attorney general could have been “easily predicted and forecast by his past behaviors when he was in the Clinton administration,” Carr said.

In a strategy similar to Carr’s, Ball has pointed to Alexander’s Senate voting record as a defense against TNGOP claims that a vote for him will be a vote for Obama.

Ball is pushing Alexander to debate — a challenge Alexander has thus far dodged. Similarly, Alexander refused to share a debate stage with Carr during the GOP primary campaign.

Ball has said Alexander is doing Tennesseans a “disservice” by depriving them of a chance to see the candidates for such a powerful elected office challenge each other on matters of great national importance.

TNGOP: Ball Making Excuses ‘Reminiscent of a 6th Grader’

Press release from the Tennessee Republican Party; September 23, 2014:

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—While personal injury lawyer and Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Gordon Ball claims he never received a National Rifle Association survey, the NRA points out that’s just not true. The Second Amendment rights organization explained to the Memphis Commercial Appeal the NRA sent the survey to Ball as they do for all candidates.

From the CA report:

NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said the organization mailed its survey to Ball at the Knoxville address listed on his candidate registration form. ‘He never returned the questionnaire. We changed his grade from a question mark to an ‘F’ based on an interview he did. Bottom line is he’s anti-gun, and we’ll make sure every gun owner in Tennessee knows it.’

In response to Gordon Ball’s lame attempt at crafting an excuse reminiscent of a 6th grader, Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney stated, “Gordon Ball blaming the NRA for his own dismal record and F-rating on Second Amendment rights may be the most transparent evidence yet of how far this slick personal injury lawyer will go to distract Tennesseans from the fact that he’d be one more vote for Barack Obama’s anti-gun agenda. The NRA says it sent Ball its questionnaire. Ball should be forthright with Tennesseans about how he earned his F, instead of claiming that the dog ate his homework.”

Background

Ball: Attacks Show Alexander ‘Out of Touch’ with Tennesseans

Press release from the Gordon Ball Campaign for U.S. Senate; September 23, 2014:

It’s now clearer than ever. Senator Lamar Alexander is truly out-of-touch with the people of his own state.

The Tennessee GOP recently came out swinging at Gordon Ball, Senator Alexander’s opponent in the November election. The party alleges that Gordon will simply be another vote for “Obama’s agenda.”

However, that statement couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Gordon is focused on his own extensive agenda, which includes protecting working families in our state,” said TN AFL-CIO President Gary Moore. “Senator Alexander and members of his party are beginning to become concerned as they realize that Gordon is a very viable and strong candidate for U.S. Senate.”

This comes just as Senator Alexander introduced the “National Labor Relations Board Reform Act” last week. The truth of the matter, however, is that his ultimate goal is to eventually do away with the NLRB.

“These changes are being introduced by the same person who wanted to do away with the minimum wage and is a strong advocate of Tennessee’s right-to-work laws,” said President Moore. “At the end of the day, Senator Alexander will never have the interests of middle class Tennesseans in mind.”

“Once again, Senator Lamar Alexander proves he is out of touch with working Tennesseans,” said Ball. “He is so busy focusing on attacking me that he has forgotten the people who put him in office the first place. Wall Street did not put him in office, Main Street did.”

As Election Day gets closer, more and more Tennesseans are ready for a much-needed change in Washington.

“As we’ve said before, Gordon has made it very clear that he will represent every citizen of this great state,” said President Moore. “We are committed to helping him ensure that the truths are told about his goals and agenda, rather than false assumptions or generalizations.”

Ball Touts Addition of ‘Faith Leaders’ to Campaign

Press release from the Gordon Ball Campaign for U.S. Senate; September 22, 2014:

Faith leaders from across the state are endorsing U.S. Senate Candidate Gordon Ball citing a change is needed in Washington. Ball announced today that several Leaders from the Faith Community have signed on to Co-Chair and will conduct meetings across the state by helping him spread the message that Tennesseans deserve better.

“Tennessee needs a voice in Washington and we don’t have one. Working men and women are working 40 hours a week in this state and so many are still living in poverty,” Rev. Frank Stevenson of St. Luke Primitive Baptist Church, Nashville said. “It’s a moral issue when working Tennesseans still don’t have access to affordable healthcare.”

“I am convinced that Gordon Ball is a man of integrity and that he has a strong commitment to the welfare of Tennesseans. Because of his previous involvement and commitment to serving the needs of the least, the last and the left out, I believe that Gordon will make Tennessee an excellent U.S. Senator,” Rev. Harold Middlebrook of Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Knoxville.”In addition, I believe that his legal abilities and capacity to work with others will help move Washington from the gridlock to a position of positive action.”

“I am honored and humbled by these fine men working with our campaign in helping us fight for working Tennesseans who have not been heard in Washington for far too long,” Ball said. “The way we can work toward change is by voting. The middle class is disappearing under the current leadership. “I agree with these men of the clergy that no hard working Tennessean should live in poverty after working 40 hours a week and denied access to healthcare when their employers refuse to provide coverage. This is a moral issue.”

Rev. Eddie Mabry – Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Bristol
Rev. A.J. Holman – Bethel A.M.E. Church, Chattanooga
Rev. Keith Norman, First Baptist Church, Memphis TN
Rev. Kenneth Whalum – The New Olivet Baptist Church, Memphis
Rev. Frank Stevenson – St. Luke Primitive Baptist Church, Nashville
Rev. Harold Love, Jr.- St. Luke A.M.E. Church, Nashville
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Calvert – Shiloh Baptist Church, Kingsport
Rev. Dr. Harold Middlebrook – Canaan Baptist Church of Christ, Knoxville

TNGOP: Union Push for Ball More Proof He’s On Board with the ‘Obama Agenda’

Press release from the Tennessee Republican Party; September 19, 2014:

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—An extensive ground game and targeting Senator Lamar Alexander. That’s the roadmap for unions in the upcoming November election.

Last night, on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show,” two union bosses highlighted their plans to push Democrats to the polls in the fall.

Leo Gerard, of the steelworkers union, and Larry Cohen, of the communications union, made the comments in response to the host’s question about what unions plan to do. In particular, Cohen discussed making Senator Alexander — who would be chairman of the Senate labor committee in a new Republican Senate majority — the “poster-child” against their efforts because of his strong anti-union stances in the U.S. Senate and defense of Tennessee’s right-to-work laws.

The TNGOP captured the conversation here.

With the news today of his “F-rating” on the 2nd Amendment from the National Rifle Association, Tennessee Democrats’ nominee for the Senate, liberal personal injury lawyer Gordon Ball, is going to need the help from unions in his attempt to defeat Senator Alexander. The AFL-CIO has already endorsed Ball, and now it’s clear union bosses plan to make Lamar Alexander a target this fall.

Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney stated, “Liberals are already starting to circle the wagons—in Tennessee and beyond. They know Senator Alexander is going to be a leader in the new Republican Senate majority and they’re desperate to get their base engaged. Unfortunately for Gordon Ball, this information just proves once more he’d be a vote for the Obama agenda in Washington.”

Background

Ball: Never Been Contacted by NRA, ‘F’ Rating a ‘Hit Piece’

Press release from the Gordon Ball for U.S. Senate Campaign; September 19, 2014:

U.S. Senate Candidate Gordon Ball’s Statement On NRA F Rating

“This comes as no surprise to me as Sen. Lamar Alexander has received NRA money for years,” U.S. Senate Candidate Gordon Ball said today. “The NRA never contacted me, never asked me to fill out a questionnaire and this is obviously a hit piece. I’m a gun owner and strongly support the Second Amendment. I just happen to have a D in front of my name on the ballot.”

“Let me be clear, the NRA didn’t even ask me that question, they went to an online piece on KnoxViews and decided to give me a score for their pal Lamar,” Ball added. “According to the Sunlight Foundation, he is second with Mitch McConnell in receiving contributions from the National Rifle Association.”

“Obviously the senator from Tennessee is taking this race seriously if he is asking favors from all his connections in Washington. If he wants to discuss these issues, let’s debate and not just go to a breakfast forum scheduled for the second day of early voting.” Ball concluded.

Ball, Alexander Trying to Outdistance Each Other from Obama

Depending on who you talk to, both candidates for Tennessee’s U.S. Senate seat up for grabs this year have a lot in common with Barack Obama.

Earlier this week the Tennessee Republican Party pitched out a press release painting a vote for Gordon Ball, the Democratic Party’s candidate for Senate, as a vote in favor of Obama’s “agenda,” which includes Obamacare, higher taxes, less restrictions on abortion, unions and gun control.

“Like many Democrats in Tennessee—and every personal injury lawyer I’ve come across—Ball will try to cloak himself with conservative rhetoric in order to win,” TNGOP Chairman Chris Devaney said in a news release. “But the reality is: He’ll be one more vote for Barack Obama’s agenda.”

In Devaney’s telling, Tennesseans face a straightforward choice. They can send Alexander back to Washington so he can “defend us from President Obama,” or they can put the bat in the hands of Ball, who would be “Obama’s lapdog in the Senate.”

Ball thinks Team Lamar is overplaying just how dependably Alexander can be relied upon to take on the president. He launched the You-Love-Obama accusation right back at the third-term-seeking Beltway insider.

It’s Lamar Alexander who’s earned a reputation as one of the White House’s pet senators, having “voted with President Barack Obama 62 percent of the time,” a press release from the Ball camp indicated Tuesday.

Ball noted that’d he’d be starting with a clean slate if elected. “I have voted with (the president) 0 percent of the time,” he said. And he fashions himself as more middle-of-the-road than left-of-center. Ball compared his political leanings to those of Ned McWherter and Phil Bredesen.

Ball’s strategy of distancing himself from a president with whom he shares party affiliation looks to resemble that of Alison Lundergan Grimes of Kentucky, another upstart Southern Democrat looking to upset a GOP fixture on the national political scene. Grimes is running to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

In a recent TV ad featuring her shooting clay pigeons, Grimes also took aim at McConnell’s loyalty to University of Kentucky basketball and his knowledge of basic firearms safety. She also peppered the president. “I disagree with him on guns, coal and the EPA,” she said.

Grimes was the keynote speaker this summer at the Tennessee Democratic Party’s Jackson Day Dinner. Neither Ball, nor his opponent in the Democratic primary, Terry Adams, spoke at that event.

Ball and Alexander will get a chance to go mano a mano to hash out who’s more Obama-esque next month. Both have agreed to appear at an Oct. 16 state Farm Bureau candidates’ forum at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville.

Alexander, Ball to Appear at TN Farm Bureau Candidate Forum

Press release from the Lamar Alexander Campaign for U.S. Senate; September 17, 2014:

Lamar Alexander’s campaign for re-election today released the following statement from the senator on the Tennessee Farm Bureau candidate forum scheduled for Oct. 16:

“I have accepted an invitation from the Tennessee Farm Bureau for a candidate forum at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville. This will be a good opportunity to remind Tennesseans that my opponent is just one more vote for Barack Obama’s agenda, and that a vote for me is a vote for a new Senate majority that will lead the country in a different and more conservative direction.”

Ball Responds to TNGOP Attack: Alexander Voted with Obama 62 Percent of Time

Press release from the Gordon Ball Campaign for U.S. Senate; September 16, 2014:

“Sen. Lamar Alexander has voted with President Barack Obama 62 percent of the time. I have voted with him 0 percent of the time,” U.S. Senate Candidate Gordon Ball said after learning that the TNGOP had launched a website and video attacking him as ‘another vote for Obama. “I have said consistently that Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell and Lamar Alexander should be replaced. If we want to change Washington, we have to change the people in Washington.”

“The bottom line is that in the primary I was painted as far right and now in the general, the partisan attack is that I’m a liberal,” Ball said. “It’s apparent I fall in the middle in the same mold as Ned Ray McWherter and Phil Bredesen.”

“As the Knoxville News Sentinel’s Tom Humphrey wrote on his website, they are concerned enough about our campaign to take the time, energy and money to come after me,” Ball added. “I find it to be encouraging and energizing as we reach out to Tennesseans who are tired of career politicians like Alexander. We must be doing something right.”

The facts speak for themselves, Ball has sued health insurance companies over their refusal to compete with each other which causes health care costs to be higher. Ball is a gun owner and pro second amendment.

He has said across the state that everyone is pro-life, but that voting no on Amendment 1 allows women to make their health decisions.

“Women’s healthcare should not be dictated by the government and elected officials,” Ball said. Alexander will vote to allow the Tennessee legislature to make those decisions for women.

Ball, who has been campaigning this past week in Memphis and upper east Tennessee will be in Nashville this week for the Tennesseans Against Common Core rally as well as hosting a breakfast for the executive committee that represents the Tennessee Democratic Party across the state.