A series of forums with the single purpose of “finding a Ted Cruz of Tennessee” to unseat Republican U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander kicks off this weekend in Nashville.
The event is principally sponsored by a grassroots organization with Tea Party ties called BEAT LAMAR, but it will be closed to media outlets during what has been described as a “vetting” process of both announced and potential candidates.
“BEAT LAMAR is a project of the Real Conservatives National Committee, which is an independent expenditure super PAC,” organizer Michael Patrick Leahy told News 2 on Friday. “The idea here is we are gathering everyone who is committed to the Tea Party movement's constitutional values of limited government, fiscal responsibility and free markets.
Leahy indicated that candidates and attendees would be available to the media before or after the forum.
He showed off red and white posters, T-shirts and yard signs proclaiming BEAT LAMAR that were already on display in a Music City Sheraton ballroom, where the event will be held from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
The event will have two candidates who have already announced they will oppose Sen. Alexander in the Republican Primary, next August and a third who is considering it.
State Representative Joe Carr who announced his candidacy last week, and businesswoman Brenda Lenard of Knoxville said she was going to run this past January.
Former Williamson County Republican Party chair Kevin Kookogey is also scheduled to attend, but he has not announced his candidacy.
“The idea is to vet these three featured speakers to see which one of them is most likely to give us the opportunity to create a Ted Cruz of Tennessee,” said Leahy in reference to the Texan whose successful 2012 run for U.S. Senate was launched by heavy Tea Party support.
“There are only 500, 000 Republicans who will be voting in August of 2014, we are going to knock on the door of every single one of them,” vowed Leahy.
The gathering will be hosted by Fox News Contributor and Sirius/XM Patriot radio talk show host David Webb.
Other forums scheduled are in Memphis on September 7, Chattanooga on September 14, Maryville, Sen. Alexander's hometown, on September 21 and Johnson City on September 28.
Leahy said his group would be issuing an endorsement at the completion of the forums.