- The Washington Times - Friday, August 2, 2002

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. Former Gov. Lamar Alexander last night defeated U.S. Rep. Ed Bryant in the race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Tennessee.
With 64 percent of the precincts reporting, Mr. Alexander had 54 percent of the vote and Mr. Bryant had 43 percent. Five other candidates split the remainder of the vote.
U.S. Rep. Bob Clement secured the Democratic nomination in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Fred Thompson, a Republican.
"By all accounts, it looks good," said Alexander spokesman Kevin Phillips early in the evening. "We're winning almost every single county outside of [Bryants] district."
The high-profile Senate battle went down to the wire, with both sides yesterday saying they were optimistic, and by late last night, neither man had conceded defeat or claimed victory.
"You can't be human and not have butterflies on election day," Mr. Alexander said when asked how he felt yesterday morning. "But all the signs are good. My hope is that Tennesseeans will think I was a good governor and will be a good senator."
Mr. Bryant got up early as well, and voted in his hometown of Henderson, before going to Nashville to visit polling precincts.
"Ed Bryant has never felt more optimistic than he does today," said Bryant spokesman Justin Hunter. "The Bryant for Senate campaign feels very, very optimistic about our chances in this race. All those poll numbers you saw earlier, you can throw out the window."
Alexander supporters were in high spirits as their man took the lead early in the evening as they gathered in the Knoxville convention center and listened to a bluegrass band and watched a group of cloggers perform.
"It's exciting. I think it looks real good," said Libby Clawson, an Alexander supporter from Morristown. "I just love Lamar."
Mr. Clement has said that if he runs against Mr. Alexander in the fall, he will examine his financial dealings, though the Clement camp would not yet give specifics. Democrats in many campaigns this fall are trying to use the issue of corporate responsibility and painting the Republicans as too close to business.
When asked about this strategy Wednesday, Mr. Alexander called it "a preposterous idea" because the "U.S. Senate reviewed my whole career" before confirming him to be U.S. education secretary in the first Bush administration.
Clement spokeswoman Carol Andrews said her boss's campaign also will bring up Mr. Alexander's record as governor, education secretary, president of the University of Tennessee and two-time candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.
Mr. Alexander would beat Mr. Clement by 48 percent to 37 percent in a hypothetical matchup, according to a poll by Mason Dixon Polling and Research. The poll, conducted from June 27 to July 1 for a group of Tennessee newspapers, found Mr. Clement beating Mr. Bryant by 42 percent to 40 percent.
Mr. Clement's camp said the Republicans' contested primary will help Mr. Clement going into the fall race.
"I think it's going to be tough to pull it back together because this has been a very bitter primary. The Republicans I talk to are very divided," Miss Andrews said.
But Republicans scoffed at such remarks.
"I think our party will be a lot stronger because of a good, competitive Republican primary," Mr. Alexander said yesterday.
"We're one party and we're going after one foe, and that's the Democrats," Robin Smith, head of the Hamilton County Republican Party said earlier in the week.
Meanwhile, in the race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, U.S. Rep. Van Hilleary easily defeated James Henry, a former state lawmaker. With 51 percent of the precincts reporting, Mr. Hilleary had 61 percent of the vote, to Mr. Henry's 33 percent.
Former Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen secured the Democratic nomination.
Mr. Bredesen told cheering supporters at a Nashville hotel that Tennessee needs better management to repair its finances and its health care system.
"These are complicated challenges for a governor," he said. "Washington politics can't do it. Gimmicks can't do it."
This fall's winner will succeed Republican Gov. Don Sundquist, who must retire because of term limits.
Also yesterday, state Sen. Marsha Blackburn won the Republican nomination for the U.S. House seat in Mr. Bryant's solidly Republican district. If she wins as expected in November, she would become Tennessee's first female U.S. representative who did not succeed a husband.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide