- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 31, 2002

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. Trailing badly in the polls, Senate candidate Rep. Ed Bryant has begun telling voters that his opponent in the Republican primary tomorrow, Lamar Alexander, is vulnerable in the general election to Democratic attacks on corporate accountability.
"Every Republican voter in this primary election should be asking themselves which candidate can survive an Enron-WorldCom attack campaign," Mr. Bryant said this week as he campaigned in Hamilton County.
He emphasized that expected Democratic candidate Rep. Bob Clement believes Mr. Alexander has questionable business dealings.
The Alexander camp dismissed Mr. Bryant's efforts to create doubt about Mr. Alexander's electability and said the former two-term governor and education secretary is in the best position to fill the seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Fred Thompson.
"It appears to be a last-ditch effort to draw attention away from Mr. Bryant's ineffective record in Congress," said Alexander campaign spokesman Josh Holly.
Mr. Alexander said Mr. Clement raised the issue on a Nashville talk show in an attempt to secure a Clement-Bryant matchup in the fall. He said polls show Mr. Clement losing to Mr. Alexander but beating Mr. Bryant in hypothetical matchups.
"Mr. Clement is desperately hoping to run against Mr. Bryant," Mr. Alexander said.
Mr. Alexander led 56 percent to 24 percent in the most recent poll, which was conducted for his campaign last week. The Democratic nomination is expected to go easily to Mr. Clement, who is giving up his House seat.
Democratic leaders have predicted in recent weeks that campaigning on the issue of corporate accountability could enable them to win back the House and expand their control of the Senate.
During his talk-show appearance, Mr. Clement said Mr. Alexander "made a lot of money and made it very fast."
"I think the question is, does he or does he not have any conflicts of interest or appearances of conflicts of interests?" Mr. Clement said. "I think some investments he probably wouldn't have made if he thought he was going to ever run for political office again."
Mr. Bryant immediately jumped on the Democrat's assertions and said he has a better chance of holding on to the seat for the party than Mr. Alexander does.
"With a shaky economy and a stock market rampant with investor mistrust we cannot afford to have a United States Senate nominee who could be vulnerable in the area of corporate dealings," Mr. Bryant said Monday as he campaigned.
"Control of the United States Senate may well depend on this."
During two runs by Mr. Alexander for the presidency, critics have raised questions about some of his business dealings, including a 1992 state audit showing that Mr. Alexander, as president of the University of Tennessee, directed the school to hold 14 functions, costing $64,626, at a conference center where his wife held one-third ownership interest.
The Alexander campaign said such questions are history and did not prevent him from being confirmed as education secretary by the Senate.
Clement campaign press secretary Carol Andrews said their candidate's comments were simply an attempt to explain the different kinds of campaigns he would run against either men.
With Mr. Bryant, he would compare congressional records. But "since Lamar really doesn't have a congressional record, you look at his record as governor, as secretary of education and as a businessman that's part of his record," she said.


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