Gingrich backs Sen. Alexander as he tries to fend off primary challenge


Former House speaker Newt Gingrich speaks at the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference on May 30 in New Orleans. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Former House speaker and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich (R) endorsed Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) Thursday, as Alexander tries to keep his his underdog primary challenger at bay.

In a statement, Gingrich emphasized Alexander's seniority, including the prospect of him chairing the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions if Republicans retake the Senate this fall. Alexander is the ranking Republican on the committee.

“As a committee chairman next year, he will play a vital role in ending the Obama era in health and in education. We need Lamar's experience and shrewdness to fix Washington," Gingrich said in a statement.

Alexander faces a slate of primary challengers, most notably Joe Carr, a state legislator. Polls show Alexander does not appear to be in serious risk of losing. But he's taking no chances in an election cycle that has been hard to predict.

Carr supported Gingrich when he ran for president in 2012.

The primary is Aug. 7.

Sean Sullivan covers national politics for “The Fix.”
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