But in speeches across the Volunteer State, Alexander is in the habit of delivering thinly veiled blasts against the “Washington people” and their “voting score cards” who propose to tell Tennesseans what it means to be a Republican. That’s clearly a shot at conservative advocacy groups such as Heritage Action and the Club for Growth, two of the groups that have set new purity criteria for Republicans and have been funding primary challenges against many who do not meet their standards.
At every campaign stop, Alexander offers a parable about the future of the Republican Party based on the tale of two famous Tennesseans who went to battle in Texas almost 175 years ago — Davy Crockett and Sam Houston. It is a story about defiance and defeat vs. pragmatism and victory.
Too many of today’s congressional Republicans, Alexander says, are like Crockett, who fought to the death and lost at the Alamo. For his part, Alexander explains, he’d rather be like Houston, who made his stand on the more favorable terrain of San Jacinto.
“He withdrew to a better place — he got some criticism for that — he showed some patience. But then he defeated Santa Anna and won the independence of Texas,” Alexander said, as nearly 100 heads nodded at the Gibson County Farm Bureau meeting last month.