State Rep. Joe Carr announces Alexander challenge

State Rep. Joe Carr announces Alexander challenge

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State Rep. Joe Carr State Rep. Joe Carr
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander
Chairman of the Sevier County Tea Party Steve Osborn told 6 News around 20 Tea Party members signed a letter asking Alexander to resign and sent it to the long-time senator earlier this month. Chairman of the Sevier County Tea Party Steve Osborn told 6 News around 20 Tea Party members signed a letter asking Alexander to resign and sent it to the long-time senator earlier this month.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

NASHVILLE (WATE) - State Rep. Joe Carr said he will challenge incumbent Lamar Alexander for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate next year.

Carr made the announcement to WTN-FM host Ralph Bristol on Tuesday morning.

"We literally have received hundreds and hundreds of emails, calls and text messages asking us to do this," Carr said during a press conference Tuesday. "I have a lot of respect for Sen. Alexander and the service that he has given to the great state of Tennessee but Sen. Alexander's record, especially his voting record, has departed from that of the majority of Tennesseans."

The decision to challenge Alexander means Carr will abandon his bid to oust incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais in the 4th Congressional District.

Alexander is headed into his bid for a third term in the Senate with $3.1 million on hand through the first half of the year.

Carr's announcement pre-empts a series of statewide "vetting" sessions that tea party groups have scheduled to evaluate potential challengers to Alexander, whom they consider too moderate.

As a result, Carr's campaign advisor Chip Saltsman announced on his website Tuesday that he resigned from his position, citing his continued support for Sen. Alexander.

"It is because of Lamar Alexander that people like you have the honor of serving in the majority of the state legislature," Saltsman wrote. "It is because of Lamar Alexander that our children and grandchildren go to better schools, and are able to compete for better jobs. It is because of Lamar Alexander that we live in a state people want to move to, start a family in, start a business in, and even retire to. I am honored to support Lamar Alexander for re-election.

Sen. Alexander also issued a statement early Tuesday morning:

"Sen. Alexander has a conservative voting record. He has an A rating from the NRA and a 100 percent rating from both National Right to Life and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He will continue to do his best to use his experience and conservative principles to solve problems and get results for the people of Tennessee."

Carr admitted a race against Alexander will be a challenge, given Alexander's extensive history of public service.

Alexander has served on the U.S. Senate since 2002 and is the former governor.

"We understand that this is a David and Goliath match up," Carr said. "We go into this with our eyes wide open."

Tea Party Seeks Challenger to Alexander

Alexander has been under fire from conservative groups statewide for his support for a bill giving a pathway for citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Chairman of the Sevier County Tea Party Steve Osborn told 6 News around 20 Tea Party members signed a letter asking Alexander to resign and sent it to the long-time senator earlier this month.

"During your tenure in the Senate, we have no doubt that you voted in a way which you felt was appropriate," the Tea Party members wrote. "Unfortunately, our great nation can
no longer afford compromise and bipartisanship, two traits for which you have become famous... Therefore, we urge you to conclude your long and notable career by retiring with dignity instead of fighting against a serious conservative primary challenger who would expose to all Tennessee voters the actual history of your voting record."

Osborn said while it's too soon to know which candidate the Tea Party will endorse for the 2012 Republican primary, the talk of interested challengers is a step in the right direction.

"I think it's a good thing that Joe wants to throw his hat into the ring," Osborn said."We need some viable challengers against Lamar Alexander."

Osborn said there are 674 members of the Sevier County Tea Party.

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