Sen. Lamar Alexander’s (R-Tenn.) primary challenger, state Rep. Joe Carr, is attacking the senator on immigration reform in his first television ad, accusing Alexander of supporting "amnesty."
“There's a crisis in America. Thousands of illegal aliens are overrunning our border. President Obama created this crisis only after Lamar Alexander voted for amnesty,” Carr says in the ad.
Ad ad began airing two days after a devastating loss for conservatives in the Mississippi GOP primary runoff, where Sen. Thad Cochran orchestrated an unexpected comeback over challenger Chris McDaniel.
Carr had previously pointed to McDaniel’s ability to push Cochran to a runoff, and the surprise defeat of Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in his primary election, as evidence the conservative movement was building steam and that Alexander could be the next incumbent to go.
But Carr and the handful of other contenders looking to topple Alexander have yet to gain momentum.
Alexander on Wednesday said he wasn’t more confident of his own chances because of the Tea Party’s losses in Mississippi and elsewhere.
“Tennesseans make their own minds up,” Alexander told The Hill when asked if the Mississippi results had encouraged him
“I’m happy for Thad Cochran. He’s a very good senator, but what happens in South Carolina or Mississippi or some other state doesn’t really make a lot of difference in Tennessee,” he added.
Carr has been a leader in the successful push for stricter immigration laws in the Tennessee Legislature, making the state one of the toughest on illegal immigration in the nation. And he’s taking a page from Cantor’s race, where the incumbent fell to an unknown challenger who charged him with supporting amnesty.
Alexander, though, is continuing to roll out high-profile endorsements to shore up support in his primary, including the backing of former GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich on Thursday. Alexander is using a playbook similar to the one that drove Cochran to a win in his primary, touting his clout in the Senate.
Gingrich (Ga.), a former House Speaker, touted in particular the potential that Alexander could become chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee if the GOP wins control of the Senate next year.
“Lamar Alexander fights for lower taxes, less bureaucracy in Washington, more jobs in Tennessee, more take-home pay in your pocket and more freedom for you and your children. As a committee chairman next year, he will play a vital role in ending the Obama era in health and in education,” Gingrich said.
“We need Lamar's experience and shrewdness to fix Washington.”