NASHVILLE - The original "mama grizzly," tea party icon Sarah Palin, says she's got state Rep. Joe Carr's back in his Aug. 7 GOP primary challenge to incumbent U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander.
In a posting on her Facebook page Wednesday, Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, declared, "Joe Carr is the new voice Tennessee needs in the U.S. Senate!"
Her statement follows a Tuesday event for Carr headlined by nationally syndicated conservative radio host Laura Ingraham.
Palin, a former Alaska governor, didn't make an endorsement when she visited Tennessee last month for a tea party rally in Sevierville with former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa. Now she's making one five days into early voting.
In her Facebook post, Palin thanked Alexander "for the respect and integrity you've shown in your many years of public service in Washington."
But she added, "With the new challenges in D.C., the time has come for new leaders who are willing to stand up to the political establishments and the Obama administration and say, 'no mas!' Unfortunately, advocating and voting for amnesty, cash for clunkers, bailouts, raising the debt ceiling, and many controversial Obama administration nominees has marred the incumbent's record. It's time for a change."
She also said she was disappointed that Alexander hasn't agreed to a debate in the seven-person GOP primary.
Carr said in a statement he was "humbled and honored" that Palin "has responded to my request for her help in this campaign against a broken status-quo that puts the interests of 11 million illegal immigrants ahead of Tennessee's worker's [sic]."
Also Wednesday, the national Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund said it is putting $20,000 into get-out-the-vote efforts on Carr's behalf. Jenny Beth Martin, chairman of the fund, said the money is going to the Real Conservatives National Committee. The goal is beefing up the "ground game" run by the Real Conservatives' "Beat Lamar" campaign, she said.
In a Times Free Press interview Tuesday, Ingraham said Alexander is "not used to" the type of Democrats in Washington today.
"These people get Lamar in a room, they chew him up and spit him out. You can't go into a knife fight with a peashooter. It's not going to work. He's from the more genteel kind, country-style patrician politician kind of background. That's kind of endearing and attractive on some level, but those days are gone."
The Alexander campaign said in a statement the senator "has broad support from conservative grassroots Tennesseans, as well as endorsements from National Right to Life, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich."
Contact staff writer Andy Sher at email@example.com or 615-255-0550.