When Senator Lamar Alexander and his opponent, Gordon Ball, appeared together on Thursday, one shared strategy became clear: they’re both courting the Tea Party vote, a force that proved to be formidable in the Republican primary.
Since Alexander’s primary challenger Joe Carr took 41 percent of the Republican vote, Alexander knows that converting his supporters will be important in the election.
After a forum hosted by the Farm Bureau on Thursday, Alexander said he recently met Carr at a Cracker Barrel in Smyrna to win him over. The hour-long dinner wasn’t winsome enough to result in a Alexander endorsement.
“I told him I would welcome his endorsement,” Alexander said after the forum. “I would like to have it. I gave him my email. My personal email. My telephone number. Our staff has met with him since then. I’d be glad to meet with him again if he’d like to.
Though many state lawmakers who backed Carr are now on Alexander’s side, Carr has yet to endorse anyone.
Gordon Ball sees opportunity in this. He told the group of farmers that he’s moving to the right of the Democratic Party, in particular on the Common Core math and English standards.
“I would hope his supporters would vote for me. I could use all the votes I could get,” Ball said.
Analysts said if enough Tea Party voters sit out completely, it might actually help Ball at the polls.