Wanted: Tea Party Challenger to Sen. Alexander

The Nashville Tea Party wants someone to take on Senator Lamar Alexander. The group sent out an email to its members this morning, asking them to sign a petition in support of a Republican primary challenger.

The petition accuses the “Tennessee Republican Establishment” of “doing everything they can” to stop any challenge to Alexander. In an interview with The Tennessean last week, Nashville Tea Party founder Ben Cunningham says Alexander talks like a conservative but his record doesn’t back it up.

“We believe his voting record should be vetted by a challenger,” Cunningham said, adding that many tea party members outside the state feel similarly about the 72-year-old Maryville native. Several Washington interest groups and publications ranked Alexander as among the least conservative Senate Republicans in 2012. He voted with Obama 62 percent of the time last year, according to Congressional Quarterly — more often than any other Southern Republican.”

Alexander’s supporters say that’s not the case. They say he’s opposed President Obama on the stimulus, Obamacare, and the bi-partisan compromise on background checks for gun buyers.

Cunningham doesn’t have a challenger in mind, but says Tea Party favorites like Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas are good role models.

Whoever takes on Alexander would have an uphill climb. He’s already raised more than a million dollars for his re-election. A recent MTSU poll says 54 percent of all Tennesseans approve of his job performance.

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