Plenty of politicians promise on the campaign trail to restore an intangible "American Dream," but one outsider Senate candidate is putting his money where his mouth is and offering to make it a reality for a few lucky supporters.
John King, a Knoxville businessman and long-shot candidate in Tennessee's Republican Senate primary, is looking to bring attention to his campaign to unseat incumbent Lamar Alexander with an "American Dream Giveaway."
Conditional on a highly improbable King victory in the Aug. 7 primary, entrants into the contest could win one of 18 prizes, including a home-starter package, luxury SUVs, and 4x4 trucks, a debt-free home-improvement business, dream vacations, and even several firearms.
"I believe in the American Dream and want to encourage the hope that it still can be achieved," King said. "So much so that I plan to give it away."
King is one of nine Republican candidates, including Alexander, who filed for the race. State Rep. Joe Carr presents the most formidable tea-party challenge and is the only other elected official in the race.
Carr received a boost after Dave Brat's stunning upset over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia's primaries on June 10, especially after interviewing with Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham in the ensuing days.
But while Brat took on Cantor one-on-one on the ballot, Carr's crowded field of competition could divide the bloc of unsatisfied Tennessee Republicans who oppose Alexander and weaken any chance of another upset. In this sense, the Tennessee primary bears more resemblance to Sen. Lindsey Graham's sweeping victory in South Carolina over six challengers last week than Cantor's dramatic defeat at the hands of one foe.
And unlike Cantor, Alexander gave up his leadership role as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference in 2012, allowing him to act more independently and to focus more time on his constituents and reelection. The seat, in short, is reasonably safe. Even a tea-party-sponsored poll in May revealed a 24-point lead for Alexander over Carr, while earlier polls have shown an even bigger gap between the two. As The Cook Political Report has it, Alexander has little to worry about.
So, it's easy to see why a little-known candidate is trying something new. If nothing else, King's creative campaign ploy allows him to demonstrate his unwavering support for gun ownership and add a few recipients to his campaign email blasts. But so far, it is attracting minimal attention: with 49 days remaining, only 18 people have entered the contest.