Will Sen. Lamar Alexander have a primary challenger by the end of today?
The Tennessean has predicted he will.
In a report Monday evening, the Nashville newspaper suggested state Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, would be announcing a Senate bid Tuesday morning.
Carr, who is a current candidate in the Republican race for the 4th Congressional District seat, is scheduled to appear on Ralph Bristol's radio show this morning, according to a Carr spokesman. The timing coincides with an earlier statement by Bristol that he would host a "major announcement" on his show that could alter the landscape of Tennessee politics at 7:05 a.m. Tuesday.
Carr, who announced a bid to unseat Rep. Scott DesJarlais in May, has already amassed more than $275,000 cash-on-hand in his candidacy. But the candidate considerably trails state Sen. Jim Tracy, who reported more than $656,000 cash-on-hand at the end of the second fundraising quarter for the current cycle—amounting to well more than Carr and DesJarlais combined.
Still, Carr has shown signs of mounting a serious campaign. The representative also announced in May the hiring of Chip Saltsman, a former campaign manager for presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, as well as a member of the campaign team for Rep. Chuck Fleischmann. Saltsman, a former chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, is known for helping Huckabee achieve a primary victory in Iowa, as well as working to secure victories for Fleischmann in contested primaries in both 2010 and 2012.
By turning the 4th District GOP primary into a two-man contest and upgrading the Senate primary into an actual race, a Carr announcement would be altering on two fronts. Since announcing he would seek a third Senate term, Alexander has become a target of criticism from far-right groups.
Although opposition, including one low-funded political action committee, has called for the senator's ouster, other groups—including a nationally prominent super PAC—have indicated interest in assisting a potential primary challenger. Still, Alexander has reported $3.1 million cash-on-hand and has the backing of nearly every establishment Republican across the state.
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