U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander will hold the Republican spot on the November election ballot, despite losing in his home district of Blount County. The two term senator and former governor defeated tea party challenger State Representative Joe Carr in the primary Thursday.
"I look forward to the general election. I invite all those who voted for my opponents to work with me. I invite democrats and independents to join me," Senator Alexander told reporters after the race was called. "We've got to learn to work together if we're going to solve big problems in this country."
A crowd of supporters gathered at a Nashville pizza restaurant to watch election results come in. Loud cheers erupted when the first media outlet called the race.
Senator Alexander thanked the dozens of volunteers in his victory speech, touting the same message he's been saying during the two year campaign.
"I think the important message here is that a large primary, this is one of the largest in our state's history, 7 candidates… nominated a 'get it done United States senator,'" he said, "Someone who can make a conservative speech but who can also get results on controlling our borders, controlling our debt, returning back to the states our education policy those are the issues that need to be dealt with."
When asked what he thought his top priority would be if he wins in November, Alexander said repealing Obamacare is high on the list.
Alexander will face either Terry Adams or Gordon Ball — both Knoxville attorneys — in the Nov. 4 general election. Ball had the lead at last check.
Of all the races that Tennesseans will be voting on Thursday night, the one getting the most national attention is Senator Lamar Alexander's reelection campaign.
Alexander is running for his third term in the Senate. He faces six opponents in the GOP primary, including Tea Party Challenger Rep. Joe Carr, and Memphis doctor George Flinn. Also on the ballot are John D. King, Brenda S. Lenard, and Erin Kent Magee.
Alexander and Carr both spent Wednesday campaigning in East Tennessee.
Senator Alexander is no stranger to politics. He's won twice before for this senate seat, he's a former governor, and University of Tennessee president. On this race, he's spent five times the amount of money as Carr, his closest opponent.
Carr, a State Representative from Middle Tennessee, says political power shouldn't matter to Tennessee voters, and actually gives him an edge because people don't like what's happening in Washington.
It's a threat Sen. Alexander has taken seriously, and both candidates addressed it Wednesday while campaigning in Knoxville.
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"Every campaign is a hard campaign. You only run two ways. You run unopposed or scared. So what I try to do is not take any voter for granted in Tennessee," said Alexander.
"We certainly have enough money to get our message out. We've traveled the state, we have a splendid grass roots organization. So if we are in the unlikely or unfortunate series of events we don't prevail in this election, we won't blame the fact that we didn't have enough money," said Carr.
Carr credits an upset Tea Party victory in Virginia earlier this year for some of his momentum. That election took House Majority Leader Eric Cantor out of office.