Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., on Saturday ended the mild suspense of whether he would stand for re-election in 2014, announcing his candidacy at press conferences in Nashville and Knoxville. The two-term senator and former Tennessee governor enlisted Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr., R-Knoxville, as chairman of his campaign.
“Lamar is a good Republican and good conservative who stands up for Tennesseans,” Duncan said. “We know and trust him to do what needs to be done.”
Alexander installed the Tennessee Republican Triumvirate of Gov. Bill Haslam, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell as honorary co-chairs. Fellow U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., fresh off a big re-election win, and conservative Republican U.S. House members from Tennessee – Marsha Blackburn, Phil Roe, Diane Black, Stephen Fincher and Chuck Fleischmann – will also serve as honorary co-chairs.
“Our country has serious problems to solve,” Alexander said. “We must fix the debt and move more decisions out of Washington. We must find better ways to help Americans move from the back of the line to the front in our struggling economy. It is time to stop making speeches and to start getting results.”
Alexander early announcement and the show of force from Tennessee conservatives from both Nashville and Washington will likely prevent a primary challenge from the right. With the organizations of Haslam and Corker behind Alexander and the grassroots goodwill of supporters of Blackburn, Roe, Black, Fincher and Fleischmann, Alexander covered the state, leaving virtually nowhere for an insurgent from the right to build a base.
Before serious fundraising even begins, Alexander’s campaign coffers are already solid at $1.1 million as of Sept. 30. His money advantage will likely only grow and by 2014 he should have the same sort of overwhelming war chest Corker took into his recent re-elect battle. Corker’s money and organization scared off any serious Democratic challengers and Alexander’s will likely do the same.
A recent analysis by Roll Call rated Alexander’s seat safe for the incumbent and safe for Republicans. Roll Call wrote:
If Alexander faces any threat, and he probably doesn’t, it would be
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