Long-Shot Senate Candidate Offers to Give Away the American Dream

A Tennessee Republican is trying to get some attention in a crowded race.

John King's American Dream Giveaway
National Journal
Jamie Lovegrove
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Jamie Lovegrove
June 20, 2014, 7:01 a.m.

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.

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