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Lamar Alexander: RINO on the run?

Why is Lamar Alexander the RINO on the run? Photo: AP images
Saturday, November 30, 2013 - Judson Phillips: Cold, Hard Truth by Judson Phillips

WASHINGTON.  November 30, 2013 — The conventional wisdom is that Lamar Alexander is in a position that almost any political would kill for.

The Republican Senator from Tennessee represents a state that has gone from being a purple state even a decade ago to a solidly red state. Ten years ago, a Democrat sat in the governor’s mansion. The Democrats controlled both the State House and State Senate, albeit with a Speaker of the Senate who governed with a coalition of Republicans and Democrats.

Today the Volunteer State is as red as you can find. There is a Republican governor and the Republicans now have supermajorities in both the House and Senate. It has been twenty years since the Democrats elected a United States Senator and now the only members of Tennessee’s Congressional Delegation that are Democrats come from the urban areas of Memphis and Nashville.

Lamar Alexander is a well-known former governor, Secretary of Education under George H.W. Bush and now a two term Senator. 

His opponent, Joe Carr, is a State Legislator running his first statewide race and Alexander’s fundraising at least for the moment, is far outpacing Carr.

All of this would suggest that Alexander is cruising towards another term.

The conventional wisdom is quite wrong. 

Lamar Alexander is now running ads in Tennessee in advance of his primary election.  On its face, that does not seem unusual except his primary is not until August. In the last fundraising quarter, Lamar Alexander raised $840,000 but spent $1.1 million. He is now engaged in a huge advertising buy nine months in advance of the election.

Why would he do that?

His name recognition among Tennesseans is through the roof.

Lamar Alexander is coming up on a list he does not want to be on. That is a list of establishment Republicans the Tea Party is coming for. 

Alexander has quietly lowered his profile in the last year. Unlike Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham, who are considered bigger targets by Tea Party groups, Alexander has tried to fly below the radar. But he also has not been afraid to challenge the Tea Party either.

Appearances to the contrary, Alexander is in trouble. 

Lamar Alexander’s ratings from conservative groups like Heritage Action for America are disappointing to say the least. Heritage Action gives Alexander only a 47 ranking.  The average Republican in the Senate, including people like Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham and Susan Collins, is 69. 

There is one really big wild card in the Tennessee Senate race. A group made up of Tea Party groups, including some of the people who helped start the Tea Party movement both nationally and in Tennessee have formed a group called “Beat Lamar.” This grassroots group is going out, hitting the streets with one mission. They want to defeat Lamar Alexander.

The winner of the Republican primary will be the winner of the senate seat. The Democrats are in such disarray that they cannot even field a credible statewide candidate. In 2012, the Democrat nominee was so bad the Democrat Party disavowed him. 

Lamar Alexander is not the lock for reelection he would have people believe.  If he were, he wouldn’t be spending all of that money this far in advance of the election. 

Soon it will be 2014 and Lamar Alexander is a RINO on the run.


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Judson Phillips

Judson Phillips is the founder of Tea Party Nation, one of the largest Tea Party Groups in the country and the number one national tea party site on the Internet.

A lawyer by profession, Judson has been involved in politics since his teens. “Ronald Reagan inspired me,” he says.

Judson became involved in the Tea Party movement in February 2009 after hearing Rick Santelli’s rant on CNBC.   “I heard there was going to be a Tea Party in Chicago inspired by Santelli, but didn’t know if anyone was doing a rally in Nashville where I was based.  Finally I emailed Michelle Malkin and asked her if there was a Tea Party in Nashville.  Malkin sent an email back saying, ‘No, why don’t you organize one?’  I did.”

The first Tea Party in Nashville was held late February 2009 which drew a crowd of about 600. Judson then organized the Tax Day Tea Party in Nashville, which drew over 10,000 people into downtown.   It was at this time that Tea Party Nation was formed.  Later that year, Judson decided to bring activists from across the country together, so he organized the first National Tea Party Convention in February 2010, which featured Alaska’s former Governor and Republican Vice Presidential Nominee, Sarah Palin as it’s keynote speaker.

He currently manages the Tea Party Nation website, writes several daily columns and is working on more projects than any one person should.  He is a frequent guest on cable and broadcast news shows, including on Fox, MSNBC, CNN and others.

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