Why Lamar Alexander is in Trouble

Along with popular conservative radio hosts like Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham coming out against him, the fundamental reasons why Senator Lamar Alexander may lose to Joe Carr in the upcoming primary are detailed in this Weekly Standard item.

Not only is his being labeled a so called RINO or squish by Conservatives appropriate, he’s now on the wrong side of today’s hot button issue – immigration reform.

If such a sentiment exists, some numbers might help explain it. Alexander’s lifetime American Conservative Union rating is 76 out of 100, with a 60 rating for the 2013 legislative year. Heritage Action’s scorecard gives Alexander a dismal 49 percent. But for Carr, Ingraham, and the rest of the “Beat Lamar” crowd, Alexander’s worst betrayal is on immigration. In June 2013, he was one of 14 Republicans in the Senate to vote for the comprehensive immigration reform bill drafted by the bipartisan “Gang of 8.” Alexander notes he cosponsored an amendment with fellow Tennessee Republican Bob Corker to beef up border security as part of the package. Border hawks like Jeff Sessions of Alabama argued the bill’s enforcement measures were toothless, a stalking horse for amnesty for illegal immigrants inside the country.

The Weekly Standard can call him a conservative and some fine long-time right-leaning Republicans can endorse him but that paragraph above may yet prove to be his undoing.

Suddenly, the politics of immigration reform looked to be swinging in the direction of the enforcement hawks and economic populists. Just days after Cantor’s defeat, one Capitol Hill Republican aide told me Carr was the “next Dave Brat.” The growing crisis at the southern border, with tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America streaming into Texas from Mexico, further pushed illegal immigration into the forefront. A July 16 Gallup poll found a plurality of Americans thought the issue of immigration and illegal aliens was the most important problem facing the country, followed closely by dissatisfaction with elected officials. On July 22, Georgia Republican primary voters picked newcomer David Perdue over longtime congressman and Chamber-endorsed Jack Kingston in that state’s Senate runoff. Perdue had closed the gap against Kingston in part by emphasizing his opponent’s association with the pro-“amnesty” Chamber. It’s a trend, some say, working in Joe Carr’s favor.