Settling Old RINO Scores

With the news that Sen. Lamar Alexander has finally drawn a right-wing primary challenge next year, constitutional conservatives everywhere probably sighed with relief. This survivor from a different era of Republican politics was doubtless a living outrage to his party’s current overseers. Here’s the report from Alexandra Jaffe of The Hill:

Tennessee state Rep. Joe Carr (R) announced Tuesday that he will challenge Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) in the Republican primary.

On local radio, Carr said he was running because Alexander was “the most liberal” member of the state’s GOP delegation.

Carr had been focused on running for the House in 2014 against embattled Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) before switching his focus to Alexander….

A coalition of Tea Party groups published an open letter last week urging Alexander to “retire with dignity” rather than seek a third term.

“Unfortunately, our great nation can no longer afford compromise and bipartisanship, two traits for which you have become famous,” the letter read.

Ol’ Lamar (or, as he was briefly known in his presidential campaigns, Lamar!) has accommodated himself to the new management of the GOP pretty well, I’d say, but like Georgia’s Johnny Isakson, he’s just not very convincing as a raging wingnut, which makes him unacceptable as a red-state senator. More importantly, he’s a relic from the days when “compromise” and “bipartisanship” were not dirty words in the GOP.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.