Republican Senate Candidates Ramp Up Campaigning Ahead Of Early Voting

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Republican Senate Candidates Ramp Up Campaigning Ahead Of Early Voting

CREATED Jul 16, 2014
by Todd Walker

NASHVILLE, Tenn - Early voting starts Friday for the statewide primary and campaigning for some of the toughest races has kicked into high gear.

In the race for Senator Lamar Alexander's seat, the Republican candidates are touting their endorsements. It's the race for who is more conservative.

National Right to Life endorsed Alexander and closest contender Joe Carr just got the nod from national talk radio host Laura Ingraham.

Joe Carr has a voting gap to close before the August 7 primary, but it's not nearly as wide as it had been according to a new poll.

"He (Alexander) had a 44-to-20 point lead over us and now it's 43-to-36," Carr said.

That poll is encouraging to Carr because it is a 16-point gain since May. Both of those polls were sponsored by the Tea Party Nation, which is also supporting Carr's candidacy.

NewsChannel 5 Political Analyst Pat Nolan said because of that sponsorship the numbers likely skew in Carr's favor.

"Anytime you see a poll done by a group that may already have a dog in the fight or is an internal poll from the campaign," Nolan said. "Those are always a little suspect on their face."

Nolan said he doesn't think Alexander needs to be worried, and likely isn't because the tone of his ads have not changed and do not even mention Carr.

Alexander also leads Carr by a considerable amount when it comes to money raised.

"He has not been able to come close to the amount of funds that Lamar Alexander has raised," Nolan said. "That's put (Carr) at a little bit of a disadvantage."

Carr said he doesn't need a large war chest to be successful.

"The voters have a clear, contrasting choice," Carr said. "And all I need and all this campaign has needed is enough money to illustrate that choice and that contrast."

Money is where Carr has raised some eyebrows.

The Federal Election Commission recently looked into a $200,000 "loan" his campaign made to a longtime financial supporter's corporation.

"The FEC certainly allows us to make a business investment," Carr said. "I believe it's on line 15 (of financial disclosure forms,) and that's what we've done."

Carr's campaign made $9,500 in interest from that loan in about five months. Some have alleged it is a way to skirt campaign finance laws, which limit contributions from individual donors.

Carr called it an "investment" with a company and said a longtime campaign fundraiser recommended it.

"(I asked) is there a way that we can invest or use that money to create interest income for the campaign? He said 'absolutely,'" Carr said.

Carr said Alexander's campaign has made similar investments. A spokesman for Alexander said those investments are in a CD account and are common.

Making $9,500 in interest off a $200,000 loan or investment equals a 4.75 interest rate. A typical one-year CD is one percent or less.

Senator Alexander was not available for an interview.

Email: twalker@newschannel5.com