Mayor Burchett says Tenn. conservatives approached him

Mayor Burchett says Tenn. conservatives approached him to challenge Sen. Alexander

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Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett tells 6 News he was approached by state conservatives to challenge Senator Lamar Alexander in his 2014 reelection bid. Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett tells 6 News he was approached by state conservatives to challenge Senator Lamar Alexander in his 2014 reelection bid.
Tennesseans first elected Sen. Lamar Alexander to the Senate in 2002. He won re-election in 2008. Tennesseans first elected Sen. Lamar Alexander to the Senate in 2002. He won re-election in 2008.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett tells 6 News he was approached by state conservatives to challenge Sen. Lamar Alexander in his 2014 reelection bid.

Alexander angered some conservatives last month after he voted in favor of a Senate bill with a path to citizenship for undocumented residents. The bill, which has not passed in the House, passed 68-32 in the Senate.

On Saturday, protesters stood outside of an Alexander event in Smyrna to criticize that vote along with others, such as a law requiring online retailers to pay a sales tax.

A Facebook page called ‘Conservatives Against Lamar Alexander' has also emerged with almost 3,000 likes. The page says Alexander "votes like a liberal."

"He's a big government gu," said James Arthur, Vice Chair of the Knoxville Tea Party. "He wants to be our parent and we'd rather be free."

In a statement to 6 News, Alexander's campaign said, "He voted with the majority of Republican senators 83 percent of the time during 2012, according to Congressional Quarterly."

On Thursday, the quarreling among conservatives earned Alexander an article in Politico.

Burchett says some of the criticisms are well-founded.  "Washington is driving further and further away from those founding principles," Burchett said.

He started his term as county mayor in 2010 after a 16-year career in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Burchett says he was flattered after multiple conservatives asked him to consider challenging Alexander in 2014 but said for now, he's enjoying being Knox County Mayor.

Rrunning against the incumbent Senator would leave Burchett with a substantial financial disadvantage.

According to a quarterly F.E.C. filing in June, Alexander has $3.1 million cash-on-hand.

Burchett has not filed with the F.E.C. and he acknowledges a Senate run would be difficult.  

Burchett said he has no immediate plans to challenge Alexander in next year's election.

Tennesseans first elected Alexander to the Senate in 2002. He won re-election in 2008.

Alexander also served as Tennessee's governor, U.S. Education Secretary, and University of Tennessee president.

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