Pragmatic Lamar Alexander prevailing in Tennessee

By Lynn R. Mitchell

The Hill takes a look at Congressional races throughout the country but I was particularly interested in Tennessee for a couple of reasons. My daughter and her husband live in Nashville and I’ve told them about what awesome representation they have in U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander. Now the tea party wants to take him out. Why? Sounds like it’s the usual “not conservative enough.”

So I found it particularly interesting to read The Hill’s analysis of that race (see Lamar rises over Rocky Top):

Tennessee conservatives may soon learn that divided you stand, divided you will fall in the GOP Senate primary.

Despite a steady chorus of protests against Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who by his opponents’ own admission is a Tennessee institution, there has never been a large groundswell of outside Tea Party support sufficient to oust the incumbent.

State Rep. Joe Carr has tried to latch onto any hope he can, especially after Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s primary upset last month. He’s gotten some celebrity endorsements from Laura Ingraham and Sarah Palin, and added Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum to that list on Monday.

Unfortunately for Carr, few of those will come with the money he needs, and he still has to fend off another primary challenger, radiologist George Flinn, in order to even be competitive with Alexander. On Monday, Flinn, who’s put $1.8 million of his own money into the race, went on the attack against Carr as a flip-flopper.

Some Carr supporters think Flinn is a plant to help secure Alexander’s reelection, but the popular former governor, U.S. Education secretary and University of Tennessee president likely doesn’t need it. An internal survey from his campaign gives him a 30-point lead ahead of next Thursday’s Aug. 7 matchup.

Nonetheless, Lamar, as he’s colloquially known in the Volunteer State, isn’t taking his foot off the gas pedal, as The Hill’s campaign editor, Jessica Taylor, observed this weekend on her ride along on his early vote bus tour.

In one of the few Southern states without a runoff, the more pragmatic, centrist Republican has often emerged from split GOP primaries there, such as Bob Corker in the 2006 Senate race and Bill Haslam in the 2010 gubernatorial primary. There’s no indication anything different will happen in just over a week, and that’s one reason Alexander also has no reason to change his time-tested approach.

“The difference is that there are conservatives who want to make a speech and conservatives who want to govern, and I’m in the latter category,” he told The Hill aboard his campaign bus. “Tennesseans know me as a conservative with an independent streak.”

It would be nice to see the pragmatic Lamar Alexander prevail in this contest.

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