A Tired Tea Party Turns Focus to Tennessee

After exerting so much energy on a failed effort to beat Cochran, conservative groups belatedly back Joe Carr’s bid against the popular Lamar Alexander.

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 12: U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) rides on the Senate Subway at the US Capitol, on December 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. The Senate worked through the night debating U.S. President Barack Obama's Circuit Court nominations. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Andrea Drusch
July 14, 2014, 5:53 p.m.

Ask Joe Carr, the tea party’s favored can­did­ate for the Sen­ate in Ten­ness­ee, and he’ll tell you he’s on a roll.

“Our mo­mentum really launched when Chris McDaniel won his primary,” Carr said con­fid­ently of his primary cam­paign against Re­pub­lic­an Sen. Lamar Al­ex­an­der. “Then when Dav­id Brat won, our sup­port ex­ploded.”

Two prob­lems with that. Not only did Chris McDaniel not ac­tu­ally win his primary””he lost the run­off to Sen. Thad Co­chran in Mis­sis­sippi after fin­ish­ing first in the ini­tial race””but some of the out­side groups whose sup­port Carr hopes to get sound ex­hausted after the tough slog in the Deep South.

Cer­tainly, Brat showed in his up­set win over House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Eric Can­tor in Vir­gin­ia that out­side sup­port isn’t the end-all, be-all of in­sur­gent primary cam­paigns. Brat be­nefited greatly from some name-only en­dorse­ments, the kind that Carr is pick­ing up now. That in­cludes con­ser­vat­ive ra­dio host Laura In­gra­ham.

But Carr, who is chal­len­ging a long­time sen­at­or and former gov­ernor, is mostly go­ing it alone. So far, just one Nashville-based su­per PAC, Cit­izens for Eth­ics in Gov­ern­ment, has gone up with TV ads on his be­half, and cer­tainly none of Al­ex­an­der’s ads have ac­know­ledged him, as Can­tor’s did for Brat.

“We fully in­ten­ded to be act­ive in [the Ten­ness­ee] race three weeks earli­er than we are now,” said Kev­in Broughton, the com­mu­nic­a­tions dir­ect­or for the Tea Party Pat­ri­ots Cit­izens Fund. “But we had a little Sen­ate race go­ing on in Mis­sis­sippi,” he said. Broughton, who was still in Mis­sis­sippi more than two weeks after the run­off, said the group was as­sess­ing what re­sources it could put in­to Ten­ness­ee after drop­ping more than $1 mil­lion in­to Mis­sis­sippi.

Carr has twice been to D.C. this year, court­ing out­side groups, and he’s had con­ver­sa­tions with folks whom he deemed very in­ter­ested. But many of them have con­ceded that the pro­trac­ted cam­paign in Mis­sis­sippi robbed them of the re­sources they needed to fully en­gage in oth­er Sen­ate primar­ies, such as the one in Ok­lahoma last month.

“I’ve been told on two sep­ar­ate oc­ca­sions that there was a day on the cal­en­dar to watch, earli­er in the sum­mer and also in the spring, where out­side sup­port would come; those days have come and gone,” said one Ten­ness­ee Re­pub­lic­an who is un­af­fili­ated in the race.

Re­gard­less of wheth­er the groups spend any money, the lack of name en­dorse­ments has hurt Carr’s cam­paign. Re­pub­lic­ans in the state, many of whom have strong ties to Al­ex­an­der, have been able to point to that si­lence as an in­dic­a­tion of Al­ex­an­der’s in­tra-party ap­peal.

Carr cer­tainly fits the mold of oth­er con­ser­vat­ive darlings en­dorsed by tea-party-style groups this cycle. He’s loud and pas­sion­ate and touts a state­house re­cord, in­clud­ing sup­port­ing deeply con­ser­vat­ive im­mig­ra­tion meas­ures. His chief ar­gu­ment against Al­ex­an­der is a timely one: Carr is run­ning ads that tie the sen­at­or to his vote for “am­nesty” in the form of last year’s Sen­ate im­mig­ra­tion bill.

Carr still pas­sion­ately de­fends his abil­ity to win without the out­side groups, but the threat that once had Al­ex­an­der’s camp look­ing over its shoulders has now all but faded away.

Asked why Carr’s race had been re­leg­ated so far be­low McDaniel’s, Broughton could only point to the cal­en­dar. “And we like to fin­ish what we start,” he ad­ded.

What We're Following See More »
STAFF PICKS
These (Supposed) Iowa and NH Escorts Tell All
4 hours ago
NATIONAL JOURNAL AFTER DARK

Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:

  • Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
  • Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
  • They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
  • One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
Source:
STATE VS. FEDERAL
Restoring Some Sanity to Encryption
4 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
What the Current Crop of Candidates Could Learn from JFK
4 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Hillary Is Running Against the Bill of 1992
4 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Trevor Noah Needs to Find His Voice. And Fast.
5 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”

Source:
×