In the wake of a tea party push to oust Washington incumbents, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander is getting primary support from a few big names from the conservative establishment.
Former House Speaker, presidential primary candidate and political pundit Newt Gingrich aligned behind Alexander today, helping the senator defend his seat against tea party favorite Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas.
In a written statement, Gingrich said Alexander's potential positioning to lead the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee could make him instrumental in making changes to the Affordable Care Act - if Republicans take a majority in the Senate.
"Lamar Alexander fights for lower taxes, less bureaucracy in Washington, more jobs in Tennessee, more take-home pay in your pocket and more freedom for you and your children. As a committee chairman next year, he will play a vital role in ending the Obama era in health and in education. We need Lamar's experience and shrewdness to fix Washington," Gingrich said.
The endorsement comes despite Carr being a national delegate for Gingrich during his 2012 presidential primary bid. Carr was one of 34 Tennessee GOP delegates to back Gingrich, according to Tennessee Secretary of State records. Although that's not necessarily an indication of success statewide. Forty-eight delegates aligned with Mitt Romney and none backed Rick Santorum.
Gingrich did not win Tennessee during the 2012 primary. He finished third behind Santorum in first and Romney in second place. He took the same spot in Blount County, Alexander's hometown.
The Gingrich endorsement came a day after Alexander got a vote of support from former Ronald Reagan economist Art Laffer.
The endorsements also come after Carr fired several volleys at Alexander this week.
In a string of statements and press releases - and his first TV ad released today - Carr has criticized Alexander over his stance on immigration reform and a federal gas tax.