As the Tennessee Aug. 9 Republican Senate primary draws closer, insurgent Tea Party challenger and Tenn. state Rep. Joe Carr appears to be gaining ground against incumbent Sen. Lamar Alexander.
Carr is running a campaign very similar to the one that led to the surprise defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on June 10th. Cantor faced lesser known opponent Dave Brat and outspent him 25-to-1. Near the end of the campaign in Virginia, Brat received support from Tea Party groups and conservative radio personalities-—particularly Laura Ingraham, who campaigned on his behalf. He also benefited from free media in the final days of the campaign and used the issue of immigration reform as a focal point for his campaign, claiming Cantor supported “Amnesty for illegal immigrants”.
In much the same way, Carr has outspent and used immigration as the focal point of his campaign, blasting Alexander’s vote in favor of immigration reform in 2013. New polling by Triton Polling Company shows Alexander leading Carr 44 to 36 percent. The poll has a margin of error of 2.9 percent. It showed Alexander with a 24 point lead in May.
If these numbers are accurate, the race has significantly tightened. The new polling comes on the heels of an endorsement by conservative talk show radio personality Laura Ingraham, who joined Carr for a campaign event in Nashville last Tuesday, and a series of interviews with national media including “Time” magazine, “The Washington Times,” “National Journal,” and MSNBC.
Will Mr. Carr score an unexpected win? Tennessee will have to wait for the answer until August 9th.