Elections | Nation

Sen. Lamar Alexander Overcomes Tea Party Challenge

NPR | Aug. 8, 2014 6:45 a.m.

Contributed By:

Gregory Barber

Sen. Lamar Alexander after a Aug. 5 campaign stop in a restaurant in Lawrenceburg, Tenn.

Sen. Lamar Alexander after a Aug. 5 campaign stop in a restaurant in Lawrenceburg, Tenn.

Mark Humphrey, AP

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander defeated state Rep. Joe Carr Thursday, marking the close of a winless Senate primary season for Tea Party groups that hoped to unseat a longtime Republican incumbent.

With 54 percent of precincts reporting, the Associated Press called the race for Alexander, the last veteran GOP senator facing a credible Tea Party-backed primary challenge this year. He won 51 percent to 39 percent for Carr.

George Flinn, a self-funding radiologist from Memphis, captured five percent while four other little known candidates captured the rest of the vote.

Alexander, a two-term senator and former governor, began his pursuit of a third term with a show of force in December 2012: he announced the backing of Tennessee GOP Gov. Bill Haslam and nearly every Republican in the state congressional delegation.

A pragmatic conservative with a history of reaching across the aisle, Alexander vigorously defended his record, including his vote on the Senate’s 2013 bipartisan immigration legislation. Through mid-July, his re-election campaign spent $6.2 million, compared to Carr’s $1 million.

Carr, who campaigned as an immigration hardliner, had the backing of Sarah Palin and conservative radio host Laura Ingraham but failed to generate much momentum until late in the campaign.

Alexander will be a heavy favorite to win a third term in November.

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