Sen. Alexander challengers could emerge next week

Sen. Alexander challengers could emerge next week (Image 1)

Nashville Tea Party founder Ben Cunningham tells News 2 that he “would guess by the end of next week, you are going to have more information, and everybody is going to have more information about a potential challenger” to Tennessee Republican Senator Lamar Alexander.

His words came on the same day that 20 Tea Party and conservative groups in Tennessee signed a letter urging the former governor to retire from the Senate seat he has held since 2002 because of not reflecting what they consider the state's conservative values.

The senator's recent votes like one supporting an immigration bill that passed the Senate has angered some conservatives.  

Cunningham said his group did not sign the letter “because practically speaking Lamar is not going to leave,” but during his group's inaugural monthly lunch meeting he shed some more light on Alexander facing opposition in the 2014 Republican primary.

He told News 2 that there a number of potential candidates “who are close to making a decision.”

Cunningham added they are “well-know and will be well-financed,” but would not be specific on names or his preference.

One political observer told News 2 that a candidate would need to raise about $7 million dollars for a campaign to offset Sen. Alexander's deep funding pockets.

Various names have been tossed out as potential challengers such as former Williamson County Republican Party Chair Kevin Kookogey and Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett.

When reached by News 2 Wednesday, Burchett said he's “not ruling anything out” and “its an honor to be considered.”  

He cited a variety of things that he's frustrated with in Washington before being asked if he was frustrated with Sen. Alexander. “Yeah,” was Mayor Burchett's response saying he was not comfortable with Alexander's support of legislation that taxes some purchases made on the Internet.

Kookogey recently testified before a Washington committee on how his group Linchpins for Liberty was targeted for what he felt was extra scrutiny by the IRS when it was seeking tax exempt status.

As for Alexander, an aide told News 2 that “the Senator is focused on being the best Senator he can be.”

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