Open thread: Last chance to oust a Republican senator this year

posted at 6:41 pm on August 7, 2014 by Allahpundit

Yes, I realize it’s Thursday, not Tuesday. What can I tell you? Tennessee goes its own way when scheduling primaries.

The bad news: Grassroots conservatives are staring at an ohfer this year in the Senate if Lamar Alexander beats Joe Carr tonight. The good news: Even though they haven’t unseated anyone, they’ve made lots of incumbents sweat. Dave Weigel posted a list today comparing the margins of victory in the primary for Senate Republicans targeted by righties with their margins of victory the last time they ran. Some, like Thad Cochran and Pat Roberts, were unopposed last time; others, like Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, had token opposition. They all finished with a smaller share of the vote this year than they did previously. In fact…

There are no more easy victories. Holding a seat nowadays means voting more conservative than you might like in the Senate and working hard on the trail to smother your challenger — and even then, as Mississippi proves, a runoff with lots of Democratic crossover votes might be necessary to rescue the incumbent. If Alexander wins tonight, take that as a comfort. The princes of the Senate no longer hold their seats as a matter of right.

Which brings us to Tennessee. What are the odds of Carr knocking off Alexander? Not great — the incumbent’s outspent the challenger five to one. Then again, Eric Cantor also outspent Dave Brat and got crushed thanks to an issue that’ll figure prominently in tonight’s race too, namely, immigration. Alexander was one of the 14 Republicans who voted for the Gang of Eight bill on comprehensive immigration reform last year. Carr’s been hammering him on that, as have Laura Ingraham (who campaigned for Brat against Cantor and campaigned recently for Carr) and the boss emeritus, who made the case against Alexander on Ingraham’s radio show earlier this week. There’s been almost no polling on the race so there’s no way to tell how close Carr is. The last one, taken more than a week ago, showed him within 12 points. According to Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight, though, the tea leaves suggest that Alexander’s more ripe for an upset tonight that Pat Roberts was two days ago:

Republican incumbents also tend to do worse the more moderate they are, and Alexander is more moderate than Roberts. Per DW-Nominate’s first dimension, Alexander has the seventh most moderate record of any Republican senator in the 113th Congress. Although it’s on the more conservative end of defeated incumbents, Alexander’s score is within the range of other incumbent Republicans who have lost in primaries in the past decade…

Additionally, Republican incumbents tend to do worse when they’re seen as insiders, and Alexander is rated as more insider-y than Roberts. It was this measure on which Cantor looked most vulnerable. Per DW-Nominate’s second dimension, Alexander is ranked 12th among Republicans in the current Senate. Roberts comes in at 16th. Roberts’s score isn’t too far from Alexander’s, but it leaves Alexander in the more vulnerable position.

Finally, Republican incumbents have done better when they’re more firmly against immigration reform.

Alexander’s grade on immigration from NumbersUSA was a C+, the same as Thad Cochran, who barely survived his primary. And Cochran, for all his faults, voted no on the Gang of Eight bill. If amnesty’s going to take anyone down this cycle, it’s Alexander. (Er, right, Lindsey Graham?)

Tennessee is split between the eastern and central time zones so the polls close at different times. Part of the state will finish voting at 7 p.m. ET and the rest will finish at 8. You can follow results at RCP, Politico, or Ace’s Decision Desk. Here’s one of Alexander’s recent ads, in which he insists — no joke — that he voted against amnesty last year. He’s been arguing lately that what we have is de facto amnesty right now, ergo, voting for a terrible comprehensive bill that would have given illegals probationary legalization with no guarantees of better border enforcement was somehow a vote against amnesty. That’s how honest this guy is.


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Yes Ace has called it.

cat_owner on August 7, 2014 at 9:12 PM

In other news…

N.J. cop in Obama rant speaks out and resigns

HELMETTA – Richard Recine’s 36-year career as a police officer came crashing down this week after he was caught on camera saying police do not have to follow the Constitution because President Barack Obama doesn’t either.

On Thursday, Recine — who had retired from the Franklin police force in 2006 and was working part time here as a special police officer — submitted his resignation.

“I don’t want to give a black eye to law enforcement,” Recine, 59, said Thursday in an exclusive interview with MyCentralJersey.com. “People are saying some really nasty stuff about cops. I don’t want all officers painted with the same brush.”…

Newtie and the Beauty on August 7, 2014 at 9:16 PM

I wonder where the votes have been counted so far? There are certain areas, mostly in the middle of the state where Carr was expected to be strong.

cat_owner on August 7, 2014 at 8:37 PM

These initial counts are coming in from Eastern Tennessee (the part of the state in the Eastern Time Zone), where Alexander is a “hometown boy”—he’s from Maryville, which is part of the Knoxville metropolitan area. So these results aren’t that surprising to me.

Let’s see what happens as the results move westward across the state. I believe Carr will close in on Alexander, if not overtake him.

Dime IV on August 7, 2014 at 9:19 PM

It’s already been called for Alexander

cat_owner on August 7, 2014 at 9:25 PM

Fox news waiting on remarks from Obama on the crisis in IRAQ.

bluefox on August 7, 2014 at 9:25 PM

I voted for Carr, if for nothing more than to hope Lamar gets under 50% (there are others besides Carr running for the GOP nomination). If Lamar wins, I will vote for him in November.

Control of the Senate is too damn important.

ladyingray on August 7, 2014 at 9:26 PM

Voted for Carr earlier today, and to throw out all the judges, even the one I know personally and like. Time to send a message.

Mini-14 on August 7, 2014 at 6:53 PM

LOL!!! I did the same thing this morning!!! What part of the state are you in? I’m in NE TN.

ladyingray on August 7, 2014 at 9:28 PM

Yep, also hoping Lamar gets under 50%.

bluegill on August 7, 2014 at 9:30 PM

In a state like Tennessee, where Democrats can be competitive (it was once represented by Al Gore!), Republican primary voters might want to “play it safe” with a proven winner like Alexander.

Steve Z on August 7, 2014 at 7:42 PM

Only because he lied about his true tendencies…while Senator he was pro life and pro gun…when he was VP, he flipped on EVERYthing!!!

ladyingray on August 7, 2014 at 9:33 PM

Well, for all that people beat their chests and say how awful Washington is and how badly we need chane, they seem to keep voting for the same frauds that keep stabbing them in the back. This is why I’ve sort of lost interest in elections. Nothing is going to change until people are literally smashed in their faces with reality. Even then I’m not so sure.

Paperclips on August 7, 2014 at 9:35 PM

Targeted air strikes & water & food aid to IRAQ per Obama.
American Diplomats and others; directed targets if ISSI moves toward this area (Irbil) Those on the mountains will receive aid.
ISSI will slaughter them and this is genocide. The people have a choice of violence or starve to death. Authorized strikes to help.
Planes already on the way, America is coming to help. The UN agrees (my words) He won’t allow the U.S. to return to fight in Iraq. We can and should support forces to …. Iraq should come together so they can fight this threat. We will continue to work with our Allies to give aid.

That is the best I can do at the moment. He is now just talking.

bluefox on August 7, 2014 at 9:37 PM

It’s incredible that this false advertising amnesty shill wins here. The only thing I can say is that I knew all along that Carr was pretty low wattage, and he ran a horrible campaign. Oh well. I’m off.

anotherJoe on August 7, 2014 at 9:44 PM

It’s already been called for Alexander

cat_owner on August 7, 2014 at 9:25 PM

Fox called it for him too. The GOPe have a pattern going on in these races, i.e. Spoiler Candidates. How many races now have been run the same way? VA Gov is the first I recall at the moment.

bluefox on August 7, 2014 at 9:46 PM

It’s incredible that this false advertising amnesty shill wins here. The only thing I can say is that I knew all along that Carr was pretty low wattage, and he ran a horrible campaign. Oh well. I’m off.
anotherJoe on August 7, 2014 at 9:44 PM

All of your posts were appreciated. I agree with what you are saying here.

bluegill on August 7, 2014 at 9:47 PM

Fox called it for him too. The GOPe have a pattern going on in these races, i.e. Spoiler Candidates. How many races now have been run the same way? VA Gov is the first I recall at the moment.

bluefox on August 7, 2014 at 9:46 PM

With the way things are looking, it looks like Alexander received more votes than all of the other candidates combined.

GOPRanknFile on August 7, 2014 at 9:49 PM

It’s incredible that this false advertising amnesty shill wins here. The only thing I can say is that I knew all along that Carr was pretty low wattage, and he ran a horrible campaign. Oh well. I’m off.

anotherJoe on August 7, 2014 at 9:44 PM

It’s difficult to run against the GOPe that supports the spoilers and the Incumbent.
It’s a pattern and will continue.

bluefox on August 7, 2014 at 9:50 PM

bluefox on August 7, 2014 at 9:46 PM

With the way things are looking, it looks like Alexander received more votes than all of the other candidates combined.

GOPRanknFile on August 7, 2014 at 9:49 PM

I haven’t looked at the results yet, but that would be surprising.
Evidently, TN will welcome the Illegals is all I can say. When the GOPe, the Dems, the NRSC/RNC/Rove’s cabal and VOTERS are against a State’s/Country’s best interest……..Sad, really.

bluefox on August 7, 2014 at 9:55 PM

If you are investing more energy against incumbent Republicans than you are against Democrats, then you are working for the progressives.

crosspatch on August 7, 2014 at 7:24 PM

You’re such a hilarious dope. Who, precisely, is “investing more energy against incumbent Republicans than … against Democrats”?

Jaibones on August 7, 2014 at 9:58 PM

Tennessee goes its own way when scheduling primaries.

We’re also the only state where the state Supreme Court justices choose the state Attorney General. How screwed up is that?

All three of our Supreme Court justices are democrats…who do you think they are going to appoint as an AG?

ladyingray on August 7, 2014 at 9:59 PM

I haven’t looked at the results yet, but that would be surprising.
Evidently, TN will welcome the Illegals is all I can say. When the GOPe, the Dems, the NRSC/RNC/Rove’s cabal and VOTERS are against a State’s/Country’s best interest……..Sad, really.

bluefox on August 7, 2014 at 9:55 PM

Yeah, Alexander has been stayed above 50% for the most part since the results started coming in.

I don’t care for Cochran (I supported McDaniel), Alexander, or McConnell, but I can’t really be mad at them, the establishment, or the voters for their victories. If you want to take them out, you need to run strong candidates like when the likes of Rubio, Rand Paul, Nikki Haley, etc. ran. McDaniel is an intelligent and charismatic guy, but he’s a bit of a loose cannon. Bevin was just an awful candidate all around. Carr ran a very lackluster campaign. It’s hard enough to beat incumbents as it is, but don’t make their lives easier by running subpar candidates. It seems like the only TP candidate that beat an incumbent in the primaries this cycle is the one where none of the TP groups really got involved (Cantor-Brat race). And a TP incumbent lost to an establishment primary challenger.

GOPRanknFile on August 7, 2014 at 10:01 PM

With the way things are looking, it looks like Alexander received more votes than all of the other candidates combined.

GOPRanknFile on August 7, 2014 at 9:49 PM

I think what most people who voted for Alexander were thinking about is that Alexander is in leadership. Carr would be our Jr Senator with NO seniority. That seniority is seen as a way that things get done, both for the country and for the state.

For what it’s worth…from voters I know that did vote for Alexander…

ladyingray on August 7, 2014 at 10:03 PM

I think what most people who voted for Alexander were thinking about is that Alexander is in leadership. Carr would be our Jr Senator with NO seniority. That seniority is seen as a way that things get done, both for the country and for the state.

For what it’s worth…from voters I know that did vote for Alexander…

ladyingray on August 7, 2014 at 10:03 PM

I have no doubt that was a major part of the calculus.

GOPRanknFile on August 7, 2014 at 10:05 PM

It’s tough to be a Tennessee conservative any more. Carr was a great candidate. But near silence in signage, radio ads or tv. Once again not enough Americans feeling the boot of tyranny to bother changing a thing.

red villain on August 7, 2014 at 10:11 PM

If you are investing more energy against incumbent Republicans than you are against Democrats, then you are working for the progressives.

crosspatch on August 7, 2014 at 7:24 PM

News flash: just because someone is a Republican doesn’t mean they’re not a progressive.

topdawg on August 7, 2014 at 10:17 PM

Ha ha ha ha ha…

You know why I am laughing? The Establishment media shills and paid bloggers are out in full force trying to reconcile with conservatives today. They are trying to tell us to let bygones be bygones and vote for their Democrat-lite candidates in November.

“Control of the Senate is too important”, “Let’s take the Senate and impeach Obama”, “We can block Obama’s judicial appointments”…

Yeah… right! As if any sane conservative here believes a Senate controlled by McConnell will be any different from the current one controlled by Reid. They are all FOR Big Govt., the only difference being in the interests they serve.

You hear that giant sucking sound. It is the sound of conservatives leaving the party in droves. We simply don’t care anymore.

You can have your Senate Majority in November but you better pray you have enough Establishment voters to make that possible. The rest of us will be at home drinking wine.

TheRightMan on August 7, 2014 at 10:21 PM

How a state can vote against Obama by a larger margin than any state but Oklahoma yet keep sending these limp RINO’s to D.C….

Sickening. And a hell of a lot of good it does to have seniority when you use it to crush your own state under a wave of immigration when your own native borns can’t find work! I loathe this lying sack of crap. After his completely sleazy tactics I don’t even know if I’ll vote for him in November. Between the connection with Flinn and the bold faced lie! I’m sick to death of these immoral bastards clinging to their power at any cost to lord over us for years and years. Where the hell are our George Washingtons?

Oh, yeah, the moronic electorate wouldn’t vote for them because they want the same tired losers until they die of old age on the floors of congress. Because seniority!!!!

ARGHHHHHHHH!!!!

pannw on August 7, 2014 at 10:24 PM

It’s tough to be a Tennessee conservative any more. Carr was a great candidate. But near silence in signage, radio ads or tv. Once again not enough Americans feeling the boot of tyranny to bother changing a thing.

red villain on August 7, 2014 at 10:11 PM

I saw signs for Carr, but I can’t remember one TV ad. Not one. I can’t say anything about radio ads, though, as when I’m in my car, I listen to XM and not local radio.

ladyingray on August 7, 2014 at 10:27 PM

I think what most people who voted for Alexander were thinking about is that Alexander is in leadership. Carr would be our Jr Senator with NO seniority. That seniority is seen as a way that things get done, both for the country and for the state.
For what it’s worth…from voters I know that did vote for Alexander…
ladyingray on August 7, 2014 at 10:03 PM

I think it’s more about name recognition and the fact that most people probably weren’t aware of Lamar’s support for amnesty. Same goes for Graham in SC. They both ran as opponents of Obama’s amnesty.

Don’t underestimate the ignorance of many voters.

bluegill on August 7, 2014 at 10:28 PM

bluegill on August 7, 2014 at 10:28 PM

Alexander served two terms as Governor, and was very respected in that role. He also served as President of University of Tennessee…don’t think that didn’t help him…

ladyingray on August 7, 2014 at 10:30 PM

GOPRanknFile on August 7, 2014 at 10:01 PM

I agree stronger Candidates may be needed, especially for the Senate. However, we need to keep in mind that funding is very important too and since many TP organizations have been shut down by the IRS, not much help is available. Unless the Voters help fund these Candidates, it’s rough going. The Chamber of Commerce have deep pockets and other organizations fund the Incumbents, so there is that.

Brat was able to beat Cantor because the Voters understood what Cantor stood for. I caught a speech by Brat during the recent House debate on the Border Security Bill & liked what he said.

I’m drawing a blank on the TP incumbent that lost?

bluefox on August 7, 2014 at 10:35 PM

The Tracy-DesJarlais race is the exciting one tonight.

GOPRanknFile on August 7, 2014 at 10:36 PM

I’m drawing a blank on the TP incumbent that lost?

bluefox on August 7, 2014 at 10:35 PM

Kerry Bentivolio lost the primary in MI-11 to David Trott on Tuesday by 30+ points.

GOPRanknFile on August 7, 2014 at 10:40 PM

I don’t think it had much effect on the results, but remember that Mike Huckabee endorsed Lamar Alexander. I mention this in hopes that people will remember, should Huckabee choose to run for president. Not that there aren’t already enough reasons to not support him.

bluegill on August 7, 2014 at 10:43 PM

“Control of the Senate is too important”, “Let’s take the Senate and impeach Obama”, “We can block Obama’s judicial appointments”…TheRightMan on August 7, 2014 at 10:21 PM

If that is what they are saying, then I’m LOL too! They couldn’t even vote to NOT FUND Obamacare! Now that should have been an easy vote. So they are going to find a backbone to do the hard stuff? LOL

bluefox on August 7, 2014 at 10:49 PM

bluefox on August 7, 2014 at 10:35 PM

Kerry Bentivolio lost the primary in MI-11 to David Trott on Tuesday by 30+ points.

GOPRanknFile on August 7, 2014 at 10:40 PM

Must have been a good reason, since he was just elected in 2012.

bluefox on August 7, 2014 at 10:56 PM

DesJarlais 44.99% 34828
Tracy 44.52% 34462

GOPRanknFile on August 7, 2014 at 10:56 PM

Correction:
Tracy 34,472
DesJarlais 33,976

GOPRanknFile on August 7, 2014 at 11:31 PM

Tracy 34559
DesJarlais 34052

93% in.

GOPRanknFile on August 7, 2014 at 11:46 PM

Wow…
S. DesJarlais 44.9% 34,779
J. Tracy 44.8% 34,746

100% in.

GOPRanknFile on August 8, 2014 at 12:10 AM

As per Ace:
DesJarlais 44.9% 34786
Tracy 44.8% 34755

100% in. A 31-vote difference.

GOPRanknFile on August 8, 2014 at 12:26 AM

I think what most people who voted for Alexander were thinking about is that Alexander is in leadership. Carr would be our Jr Senator with NO seniority. That seniority is seen as a way that things get done, both for the country and for the state.

For what it’s worth…from voters I know that did vote for Alexander…

ladyingray on August 7, 2014 at 10:03 PM

In other words, voters are more concerned with how much pork Alexander can pull in for the state. To Hell with the big picture as long as everyone thinks they can get their slice of the pie.

WhaleBellied on August 8, 2014 at 12:41 AM

I think it’s more about name recognition and the fact that most people probably weren’t aware of Lamar’s support for amnesty. Same goes for Graham in SC. They both ran as opponents of Obama’s amnesty.

Don’t underestimate the ignorance of many voters.

bluegill on August 7, 2014 at 10:28 PM

Sad but true.

anotherJoe on August 8, 2014 at 2:34 AM

Lest we forget… we are in a good old boy state… Lamar is our token good old boy.. Do nothing just smile and pretend you ae on the “peoples” side!

oldandwise on August 8, 2014 at 11:11 AM

Don’t underestimate the ignorance of many voters.

Such as, the Cantor thing was a fluke.

And that Carr guy never bothered introducing himself to anyone much outside of Nashville and Memphis, and no one east of Knoxville.

Moesart on August 8, 2014 at 11:18 AM

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