published Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Sen. Lamar Alexander spends big on ads

Lamar Alexander
Lamar Alexander
Photo by Doug Strickland /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE — Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander's campaign spent $1.34 million, much of it on television broadcast and cable ads, during the first 18 days of July as he ramped up his GOP primary effort for early voting in Tennessee, his disclosure shows.

The two-term senator reported to the Senate Secretary's Office of Public Records that he had $2.19 million in cash on hand as of July 18. Alexander reported receiving $129,138 in contributions July 1-18.

But one of Alexander's rivals in the Aug. 7 primary, tea party favorite Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, had just $170,000 in cash on hand at the end of the preprimary reporting period, campaign manager Donald Rickard said in an email to the Times Free Press.

Carr raised about $70,000 in the period, Rickard said. He had reported a cash balance of $442,000 at the end of the second quarter on June 30. But some of his contributions were made for the general election and can't be used in the primary.

Rickard did not respond to an inquiry on whether the campaign can afford to get back on broadcast television in a meaningful way. A spot check of four television stations -- two in Chattanooga and two in Nashville -- indicated no recent ad buys during the crucial period. But Carr could be buying ads on other stations as well as cable.

Alexander spent $1.1 million with Smart Media for advertising and TV production, according to his disclosure, and had money left for direct mail and other outreach efforts.

Meanwhile, Dr. George Flinn, a Memphis radiologist and radio station owner running in the GOP primary, reported spending $402,000, with much of the money going for television and radio advertising and direct mail.

Flinn is largely self-funding his campaign with a $1.8 million no-interest loan. He reported no contributions during the early July period. But he still had $1.26 million he can spend and be competitive with Alexander.

Unlike presidential and U.S. House candidates, U.S. Senate candidates don't file directly with the Federal Election Commission. Instead, they file with the Senate Secretary's Office of Public Records and the reports are then sent to the FEC.

The disclosures' mailing deadline to the Senate was July 23 and they had to be received by last Saturday, but none of the disclosures for the three major Republicans were on the FEC's website Tuesday. The candidates supplied the reports at the Times Free Press' request.

Ball, a wealthy Knoxville attorney, loaned his campaign $170,000, raising his total loans to $379,000. He spent $176,172, including $142,311 on television.

Ball has said he would spend between $300,000 to $400,000 out of pocket for the primary.

Democratic candidate Terry Adams, another Knoxville attorney, continues to struggle, according to his filing. He reported raising just $14,619, spending $11,537 and having only $13,588 in cash on hand.

Contact staff writer Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com or 615-255-0550.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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