Tennessee Senator Lamar! Alexander is not going to go quietly. Although he will face a Tea Party backed challenge in 2014, the former-Governor and current U.S. Senator will not hide his pragmatic streak. Instead of making excuses or bending, Alexander is making the case that Tennessee needs leadership in dealing with issues like immigration and the farm bill.
What we are seeing in Tennessee is a familiar pattern. In past election cycles when U.S. Senators have been confronted by Tea Party challengers they have chosen to go one of two way – either compromise or confrontation. Alexander has come to fork in the road and has taken a clear direction. Will it work? History is not on his side.
When faced with a challenger Dick Lugar chose to confront the Tea Party and defend his work on things like arms control. This strategy ended up getting him second place on primary night.
In contrast, John McCain handled his Tea Party challenge much differently. Inside of trying to lecture them on why he was right about immigration reform McCain gave us this piece of accommodation:
While Lugar may be more admirable than McCain it did end up costing him his career. Will Alexander have the same fate? Or has something really changed in the GOP and the business community is finally ready to push back?
We’ll see and the result will say a great deal about the party’s mood for 2016.