Lamar Alexander releases ad featuring Rand Paul

In an apparent effort to boost conservative support, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has launched his first TV ad campaign of the 2014 cycle with a spot featuring footage of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) that touts a measure Alexander spearheaded to protect fishing access.

"We don't want a government that's strong enough to make our lives risk-free. We can do that for ourselves," says Alexander in the ad, which touts his work to pass a measure that placed a two-year moratorium on efforts to restrict fishing access in certain areas in the state.

The spot includes footage of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who co-sponsored the measure, saying: "Nobody wants to say no to Lamar Alexander."

Alexander's campaign is spending $180,000 on his new ad campaign, most of which is going toward television airtime. He raised more than $2 million in the second quarter, his campaign said.

It's very early in the cycle for incumbents to air ads. The move suggests Alexander's strategy is to scare away primary threats with an early show of strength. Paul is very popular among conservatives.

The primary election poses more danger to Alexander than the general election does in the conservative state. Accordingly, the incumbent began ramping up his campaign by touting support from Republicans with 2012 barely in the rear-view mirror. Last December, Alexander's campaign announced the state’s Republican governor and almost every Republican member of the state’s congressional delegation is behind him.

Despite buzz early in the cycle that he might face heat from the right, Alexander faces no serious primary threats right now. Though some conservatives have shown interest in finding a suitable challenger.

Updated at 5:56 p.m.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Sean Sullivan · July 5, 2013