published Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Clamoring for a conservative to challenge Alexander

A lot of Tennessee conservatives are hoping for a change. They want an option; a principled, limited government, free market advocate to run against U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and his liberal voting record in the 2014 Republican primary.

For proof, you only have to look to the Nashville Tea Party. In just a few short weeks well over 5,000 Tennesseans have signed an online petition organized by the group calling for a “true conservative candidate to oppose Lamar Alexander,” and arguing that “Alexander is NOT a conservative and the people of Tennessee should have a Senator who will fight for conservative values.”

A quick glance at Alexander’s voting record shows that the Nashville Tea Party has a strong case to back up its assertion that the senator is a Republican in Name Only.

In the Club for Growth’s Congressional Scorecard, which rewards pro-growth, limited government, free market-oriented votes, Alexander earned a paltry score of 55 percent — only six Senate Republicans ranked worse. The National Journal graded every senator based on his or her conservative votes and found that Alexander was the 39th most conservative GOP senator out of the 45 Republicans.

He again earned a score of 55 percent in the Heritage Action Scorecard of conservative votes, compared to a Senate Republican average of 72 percent. According to the rating, Alexander sponsored five of the most liberal, big government bills during this session of Congress.

Alexander’s votes for the 2008 bank bailout and the 2012 fiscal cliff deal, his support of President Barack Obama’s bloated $85 billion jobs bill and his frequent backing of job-killing green schemes championed by environmental extremists have left many Tennesseans searching for a better alternative. Tennessee’s senior senator knows this and has been engaged in a frantic effort to scare off potential primary challengers.

• • •

In an attempt to clear the field of other candidates, Alexander chose U.S. Rep. Jimmy Duncan Jr., R-Knoxville, as his campaign chairman and named Gov. Bill Haslam, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell and U.S. Reps. Marsha Blackburn, Phil Roe, Diane Black, Stephen Fincher and Chuck Fleischmann honorary campaign co-chairmen. By rewarding the most prominent Republicans in federal and state government with positions in his campaign, Alexander effectively eliminated his most potent challengers.

He then wasted no time collecting the endorsements of every living Tennessee Republican Party chairman, a fact that’s hard to believe given how indefensible and unacceptable Alexander’s voting record is to many Volunteer State Republicans. That move prevented challenges from well-known political players such as Chip Saltsman, Chris Devaney and Robin Smith.

In hopes of staving off challengers from the Tennessee General Assembly, he wined and dined Republican state lawmakers and apple-polished them with pledged to work to keep Washington out of the state’s business — even though his voting record shows that he has no problem with a large and intrusive federal government.

A recent Politico article even revealed that Alexander hectored Monty Lankford, a Nashville-area Republican who ran for Congress in 2008, into deciding not to run for Senate during a recent face-to-face meeting.

Alexander makes no bones about, or apologies for, his borderline ridiculous measures to cling to his position — and the power that goes with it. “I’m running a Colin Powell military operation, which is assemble an overwhelming force, focus on a single target and have the stomach to see it all the way through to the end,” Alexander told Politico. That single target, unfortunately, isn’t to serve Tennesseans well. It’s to continue life as a high and mighty U.S. Senator.

• • •

Despite his best efforts to scare off potential primary challengers, however, it appears that several candidates are prepared to take Alexander on.

The two names that come up most frequently in the rumor mill are Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and Glenn Jacobs, who is better known as WWE wrestling star Kane.

The Metro Pulse, Knoxville’s alternative weekly newspaper, first reported that Burchett is considering a run against Alexander. As a county mayor, Burchett has amassed impressive conservative credentials, including standing firm against calls to increase Knox County property taxes.

Unfortunately, Burchett may not be able to outrun his past, which includes a messy divorce, campaign finance irregularities and some terrible votes during his dozen years in the Tennessee State Senate. He is also still viewed as a Judas by some Republicans for casting the deciding vote to keep Democrat John Wilder as the Speaker of the Senate in 2007, even though the GOP had a one-seat majority.

According to Reason magazine’s website, Jacobs is “open to the possibility of considering a primary campaign against Sen. Lamar Alexander” as a libertarian-leaning Republican. Due to his fame as Kane, Jacobs has a built-in base of support. He also has proven himself a serious student of policy and a passionate advocate of limited government by co-founding the Tennessee Liberty Alliance and penning several thoughtful anti-tax pieces in recent months. Still, it’s hard to know how receptive Tennessee voters will be to a pro wrestler-turned political candidate.

The fact that two legitimate candidates are considering running against Alexander provides some hope for Tennessee conservatives. One thing is for sure, Burchett, Jacobs or almost any other conservative with a pulse would be a welcomed improvement over Lamar Alexander.

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
jesse said...

The older Lamar gets the more he looks like Al Gore Sr.

May 26, 2013 at 6:53 a.m.
MyGen said...

If there are so many who don't care for Lamar Alexander, it seems like a candidate would have a lot of support to run against him. So, why is there a need to clamor? After having too many friends who complain about their situation but never do anything to change it, it may be that either people just like to complain or the situation just isn't so bad. Lots of people talk and very few actually do anything. Maybe the same applies.

May 26, 2013 at 7:50 a.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

The problem with the Republican party in TN is that they are way too loyal to anyone with an R after their name. The party refuses to hold elected Republican officials accountable to principles. The end result will be that the Republican party will disappoint and eventually loose those that put them in office and they will start to loose their majority.

The party power structure will then insist that they need to move the party even farther to the left so they can regain losses. The politicians loose sight of principles in their world of influence peddling and compromise.

For example, Tennessee is one of only (3?) states that do not require a referendum for city annexation. It seems obvious to anyone that thinks they live in a free country that they would have a say in whether a city can annex their community. Not so in Tennessee! Republicans are too accountable to the Tennessee Municipal League. That very powerful special interest group puts a Mayor's power to annex and increase his tax base OVER the rights of citizens being targeted for annexation. TN State legislators were only able to agree to suspend annexations for a year because too many Republicans are in debt to the TML. Organisations like TML, not your elected representatives, are the ones who really run this state.

May 26, 2013 at 11:35 a.m.
rumrunr said...

and the repubs start to eat themselves. the mantra of "purity" ,at all costs, should be interesting

May 26, 2013 at 12:15 p.m.
chet123 said...


May 26, 2013 at 12:40 p.m.
aae1049 said...

The public has short term memory. Each time I drive over Chickamauga Dam and see 50 million in project planning, engineering, structural cofer dam go dormant in a hurry up and stop point, it makes me want to spew cuss words at all the idiots in Washington, both R and D. They are idiots. The Chickamauga Dam project represents decades of planning and finally they get to execution 30 to 50 percent and stop. MORONS all of you, Corker, Alexander, Fleischmann,DeJarles..... I don't care if you are R or D, this botched Dam Project is unacceptable by everyone from the top, down.

May 26, 2013 at 9:12 p.m.
ResistTyranny said...

Tennesseeans deserve to have a Constitutional conservative representing us in the US Senate. A serious coalition is emerging to beat Lamar - .

May 27, 2013 at 1:15 a.m.
nucanuck said...

RT, sounds like you are looking for a radical conservative. Betcha can find one if you look under enough rocks.

May 27, 2013 at 2:11 a.m.
MountainJoe said...

Maybe we can talk Rand Paul into moving to TN? ;)

May 27, 2013 at 10:29 a.m.
ResistTyranny said...

No, nucanuck. Just a Constitutional conservative. Now you can crawl back under your rock.

May 27, 2013 at 11:22 p.m.
Leaf said...

Yes, Republican party. Please race to see who can get the most conservative score from the Heritage Action Scorecard (whatever that is). Don't vote your conscience or represent your state. We don't really need that Chickamauga lock. Just do what Carl Rove tells you and the gravy train will keep on rolling.

Simplistic Truthiness, have you changed your name again?

May 28, 2013 at 10:03 a.m.
aae1049 said...

Leaf, are you a party follower. If Dem, you should be happy with Alexander. He votes as Dem as it gets.

May 28, 2013 at 7:15 p.m.
Leaf said...

That wasn't the point of my post, aae. The writer of the article is judging a politician based on his "conservative" score from some organization probably run by Carl Rove and his usual gang of power players. This is their attempt to consolidate power by coercing politicans into following the orders of Koch, Rove, and company. They convince the right-wing faithful that their local representative doesn't pass the conservative litmus test, and they get someone a little more tractable into the position. It's an old game. I would think, though, that the state's righters in your organization would object a little more strongly to such efforts to consolidate power nationally. I'm always struck by the dichotomy of a group of people who strongly identify with the ideas of limited government and individual freedom, and then proceed to vote in lockstep as they are directed.

May 29, 2013 at 11:14 a.m.
Hunter_Bluff said...

Seems a brilliant plan. Trade in a senator with seniority and a national reputation as a governor and former cabinet member in a Republican presidency for a former "pro" wrestler. A former pro wrestler? Representing our state at the National level? Did anyone notice how well that worked when Jesse Ventura was governor? A least Alexander is trying to get the Chickamauga Lock repaired before the old lock collapses. And thanks Mitch McConnell for sucking up all the money for the lock in his state - screw the rest of the country's interests.

May 29, 2013 at 10:25 p.m.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »


Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.