OPIOID SERIES:

Sens. Carper, Alexander reveal secret nicknames for each other

Their initials might not be even close to each other, but that doesn’t keep Sens.  Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe risk of kicking higher ed reauthorization down the road Maternal deaths keep rising in US, raising scrutiny Supreme Court weighs future of online sales taxes MORE (R-Tenn.) and Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperGOP chairman probes Pruitt’s four email addresses Watchdog requests probe into relationship between top EPA aide and man investigating him Overnight Finance: Wells Fargo could pay B fine | Dems seek info on loans to Kushner | House to vote on IRS reform bills | Fed vice chair heading before Congress MORE (D-Del.) from bestowing similar nicknames upon each other.

While speaking with reporters Tuesday, Carper repeatedly referred to Alexander as “L.A.” The name makes sense, as those letters are the Tennessee lawmaker’s initials.

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But when ITK asked what Alexander, in turn, calls Carper, Delaware’s senior senator replied, “T.A.” 

Say what?

Carper explained that the name goes way back, when he and the former GOP conference chairman were working together on a piece of legislation referred to as the “Alexander-Carper” bill. Says Carper, “There was once a news story several years ago … one of the reporters had [written] the story as, ‘Lamar and Tom Alexander.’”

But details of the exact origin appear to be up for debate.

Alexander remembers it a tad differently, writing to ITK in an email: “Sen. Carper told me that when he got off the train in Delaware one night, he heard the local radio station attribute a quote about the bill to ‘Sen. Alexander Carper.’”

One thing is certain: The names stuck. Alexander told us, “Ever since then, he’s called me L.A. and I’ve called him T.A.”

Carper seems to be pretty pleased with the moniker, admitting, “People have called me a lot worse, I’m sure.”