A Republican who earlier this year threw his hat into the ring to oppose longtime U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., in the August 2014 primary visited Chattanooga on Thursday.
State Rep. Joe Carr, a Republican from Lascassas, Tenn., in Rutherford County, who was elected to the state Legislature in 2008, spoke to GOP and tea party voters at the Century Club Banquet Hall off Access Road. He is traveling with the "Beat Lamar" campaign.
Michael Patrick Leahy, co-founder of "Beat Lamar," told audience members that they were responsible for "vetting" Carr, in order to determine whether they want him to represent them in the race. He said a more conservative Republican candidate has a good shot to unseat Alexander, who is the target of the "Beat Lamar" movement.
"We have polls that show a generic Republican challenger will beat Lamar Alexander by five points," he said.
Leahy and Carr both said Alexander has compromised too much and voted too liberal in Congress to remain conservative Tennesseans' senator.
But the Alexander camp rebuts claims that the former governor of Tennessee has gone liberal. "Sen. Alexander will keep putting his conservative principles to work solving the problems facing our country," Alexander's Washington office said in an email Thursday.
"[Alexander] has a conservative voting record reflected by his 'A' rating from the NRA and his 100% rating from National Right to Life, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Federal of Independent Businesses," the statement said.
Carr said he understands Alexander is entrenched and the fight will be uphill.
"I understand this is a David and Goliath. They're the establishment, and we're not," he said.
Carr said in regard to Chattanooga, he probably would not have given tax and deals to Volkswagen to win the plant, because it isn't fair to companies that were already here.
He also said he doesn't believe companies like Volkswagen should not be made to hire union employees, and employees should not have to be unionized. Carr said he is in favor of employees having the option to join a union.
Carr is the only Republican currently running against Alexander. Last month, Larry Crim, a Democrat Senate challenger, campaigned in Chattanooga.
Contact staff writer Alex Green at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6731.