11:18am

Tue August 20, 2013
Politics

Joe Carr Challenges Lamar Alexander, Hopes for Tea Party Support

Tennessee State Rep. Joe Car, R-Lascassas
Credit tn.gov

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) — Tennessee State Rep. Joe Carr announced Tuesday morning that he's abandoning his bid for Rep. Scott Desjarlais's 4th District Congressional seat.

Carr will instead challenge incumbent Lamar Alexander for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate next year.

Carr’s announcement that he's switching races comes amid a growing chorus of complaints by Tennessee tea party groups that Alexander is too moderate. Carr is hoping his announcement will preempt a series of statewide "vetting" sessions tea party groups have scheduled to evaluate potential challengers to Alexander.

Carr made the announcement Tuesday morning on talk-show host Ralph Bristol's WTN-Radio program.

Carr faces an uphill battle. Alexander heads into the contest for his third term in the Senate with $3.1 million on hand through the first half of the year.

Carr's decision to abandon the 4th District Congressional race doesn't' mean Rep. DesJarlais won’t have some stiff GOP competition for the seat. State Sen. Jim Tracy of Shelbyville will continue his bid to oust the embattled incumbent for the Republican nomination next year.

DesJarlais is considered vulnerable because of his past infidelities and once having encouraged his wife and a lover to seek abortions. The Jasper, Tennessee physician officially launched his bid for a third term earlier this month.

Tracy continues to lead the race in fundraising, reporting more than $650,000 on hand through the first half of the year. DesJarlais raised $88,000 during the same period.

The largely rural 15-county 4th district spans from the suburbs of Nashville to the outskirts of Chattanooga.