Lamar Alexander draws primary challenger

August 20, 2013

Tennessee state Rep. Joe Carr announced Tuesday that he will challenge Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) in a primary.

Carr announced his intentions Tuesday morning on a local radio show. He had previously been looking to challenge Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) in a primary.

He made clear he will be running to Alexander's right.

"Lamar is popular, but there is a disconnect with his popularity to the way he has voted," Carr said, according to AP.

Alexander is a former two-term governor and education secretary under George H.W. Bush. He is running for his third term in the Senate and was formerly a member of GOP leadership.

He has worked to ward off a significant primary challenger, getting an early start on the 2014 campaign and touting the endorsement of Sen. Rand Paul (R) from neighboring Kentucky.

Alexander, 70, in an op-ed Tuesday in the Tennesseean brushed aside calls for him to retire and argued for the need for a conservative who can get things done.

"Washington needs more, not fewer, conservatives who know how to govern," he said. "Governing means listening, standing up for what you believe in and solving problems to get a result. I did that as governor. I’m doing that as senator. I’m proud of that record."

Alexander's seat is not considered vulnerable in the general election.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Aaron Blake · August 19, 2013