Sunday, September 01, 2013

Behind the Ad: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) on why he really, really hates ObamaCare

By Richard K. Barry

Who: Senator Lamar Alexander

Where: Tennessee

What's going on: In today's GOP it isn't enough to oppose President Obama and everything he stands for. You have to pile on to prove to the hardcore right that you really mean it. Understanding that fact, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander has a new ad that started running statewide last Thursday in which he presses his case as a super enthusiastic critic of ObamaCare.

The Hill:
It comes on the heels of an attack launched by the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF), a group that typically backs conservative primary challengers, charging that Alexander "refuses to join the fight" to defund the law because he's declined to sign on to a letter circulated by conservatives that effectively pledges to shut down the government if the law isn't defunded.

Alexander is obviously trying to avoid a strong primary challenge, and already has a weak one in state Rep. Joe Carr (R). The SCF would like to find a stronger opponent, which is why Alexander is trying establish his credentials as the right kind of conservative.

Yesterday the New York Times ran a story about the inability of some GOP senators to head off primary challenges, noting in particular McConnell in Kentucky and Graham in South Carolina. They also give a mention to Alexander:
In Tennessee, Tea Party activists have vowed to take out Lamar Alexander, the veteran senator, former cabinet officer and two-time presidential candidate. “Senator Alexander has never been a true conservative,” said Ben Cunningham, president of the Nashville Tea Party. “His support for the amnesty bill has caused great problems for us,” he said, referring to the Senate immigration bill. “He is at best a moderate.”

Whether or not these incumbents are likely to lose in their primaries, they will have to spend money to fight challengers and, as the Times writes, 
Republican incumbents often move to the right to fend off a primary fight from that wing, which only emphasizes party infighting over core issues like immigration and how best to tackle fiscal disagreements on Capitol Hill, often damaging them in a general election.

All in all, it's good news for Democrats.


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