Sunday, July 07, 2013

Behind the Ad: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) plays defence

By Richard K. Barry

(Another in our extensive Beyond the Ad series.)

Who: Sen. Lamar Alexander's reelection campaign

Where: Tennessee (statewide)

What's going on: According to Roll Call, about a week ago Senate Conservative Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins got in touch with like-minded folks to inform them of his interest in supporting a primary challenge against Alexander if "a strong, conservative" candidate steps forward.

No doubt concerned about such a thing, incumbent Alexander will be airing ads in the state to prove how gosh darn conservative he really is, using the highly contentious right-to-fish issue as his instrument.

The ad, which is all about letting Tennesseans fish wherever the hell they want, will air later in July. It features Rand Paul and it contains a strong anti-government / pro-libertarian message that people ought to be able to make their own decisions about the risks they want to take.

The possibility of a primary challenge for Alexander is interesting, though also interesting in this piece is the notion of personal responsibility, a conservative theme of long-standing, which they like to apply to things like gun control, health care, and, apparently, fishing.

The issue in this ad has to do with a prior ban by the Army Corps of Engineers on fishing in parts of the Cumberland River in Tennessee and Kentucky. The Army Corps had constructed barriers that would keep boats from entering tailwaters of ten dams along the Cumberland River, with plans to construct more. Their argument was that the waters surrounding the dams were hazardous and that there had been three deaths and ten near misses or rescues since 2009.

Subsequently, President Obama signed legislation prohibiting the Army Corps of Engineers from restricting recreational access along the Cumberland River. Chalk one up for the fishers and Alexander.

I don't have a strong opinion on the issue, though I do have concerns about the lives of rescuers put at risk by the stupidity of those fishing these waters. Personal responsibility is a great thing if it doesn't unduly butt heads with other people's interest in exercising their own rights, like the right not to die saving someone who insists on putting him or herself in harms way.

I'm sure it makes for great local politics in Tennessee and Kentucky.

If you're marking a calendar, the Tennessee GOP primary is scheduled for Aug. 7, 2014.

(Cross-posted at Phantom Public.)

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