The Republican U.S. Senate primary will take place in the fall of next year, but it seems increasingly unlikely that state Rep. Joe Carr's challenge to Sen. Lamar Alexander will make it past the end of this one.
There's no reason to believe that Carr, a man who holds up Davy Crockett as a sort of spiritual father, will drop out of the race. But we're quickly running out of evidence to suggest he's even on the same lap as the bulletproof Senior Senator.
After stating on Facebook in April that "running against Alexander would cost 10 million dollars" he revised that number in August when, after announcing his jump from the 4th Congressional District GOP primary to the Senate race, he said it would take more than $5 million to defeat the incumbent. Either estimate suggests he's buried. Earlier this month he announced a third-quarter fundraising haul of "a little less than $100,000," which turned out to be a mere $52,000. Carr has raised $325,000 in all, a pittance next to the $2.8 million in the bank at Lamarland.
The financial deficit might not be so damning if Carr's "grassroots" campaign weren't more like a collection of weeds. While he secured the endorsement of the political action committee Beat Lamar earlier this month, he failed to inspire consensus among the Coalition for a Constitutional Senate and its members from Tea Party groups across the state. He irritated members of both groups when some of his answers on a questionnaire sent to prospective Tea Party candidates were revealed to be cut and pasted directly from the Heritage Foundation's policy materials. (Carr said he did not realize the questionnaire would be "subject to the same standards of sourcing that apply to journalism.")
Throughout, his efforts to make hay on Alexander's right flank have been thwarted. Just this week, Carr called for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to resign over the implementation of Obamacare, and slammed Alexander for "refusing to do so." A day later Alexander appeared on the Senate floor and called for her resignation. The Carr campaign immediately framed it as a response to pressure, but an Alexander aide tells the Scene Alexander's speech was planned last week.
Carr's campaign makes sense only as a bid for political martyrdom and Davy Crockett status in Tea Party lore. But this is hardly the stuff of which legends are made.