- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 4, 2002

Former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander's Senate campaign announced last week it has nearly reached the $2 million mark in fund raising, while his rival for the Republican nomination is being more tight-lipped about money with less than two months until the Aug. 1 primary.
Mr. Alexander who also served as U.S. education secretary and made two failed bids for the Republican presidential nomination is facing Rep. Ed Bryant in the Republican primary. The two men are vying to succeed Republican Sen. Fred Thompson, who announced March 8 he would not seek re-election.
The winner of the August primary is expected to meet Democrat Rep. Bob Clement in November's general election.
Mr. Alexander's camp made public its intentions to raise $2 million by the end of May and they are "just about there," spokesman Kevin Phillips said Friday. As of May 24, Alexander campaign manager Susie Alcorn reported the campaign had raised $1.4 million. Mr. Phillips said they are just shy of $2 million now. They have been fund raising since mid-March when Mr. Alexander announced his candidacy.
In another fund-raising development, Mr. Alexander's fund-raiser, Ted Welch, was recently tapped by Tennessee's other U.S. senator Republican Bill Frist to work a second job as the national finance chairman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Mr. Frist heads the NRSC.
Mr. Bryant's campaign has remained low-key about its fund-raising efforts. Campaign spokesman Justin Hunter said his camp has raised about $400,000 to $500,000 so far. "We're pleased with our fund raising," he said. "And we only held our first major fund-raiser recently." On top of the fund raising, Mr. Bryant also transferred most of the $500,000 he had in his congressional campaign coffers.
Mr. Bryant was recently endorsed by popular contemporary Christian singer Michael W. Smith, who held a Bryant fund-raiser Thursday on his farm south of Nashville. Mr. Hunter said it went "very well" and fund-raising totals from the event are still being calculated.
Mr. Bryant has characterized himself as the true conservative and characterized Mr. Alexander as more liberal and unwilling to consistently stand up on conservative issues like opposition to abortion.
"The [Republican] party has become more conservative," Mr. Hunter said Thursday. "And if the party's ideals and beliefs and principles are going to continue to endure and flourish, then there's only one choice for U.S. Senate and that's Ed Bryant."
Mr. Hunter particularly highlighted differences between the two Republican candidates on the abortion issue, saying that as governor, Mr. Alexander liberalized the state's abortion laws and has said in the past that the federal government has no role in the abortion issue and should not regulate it.
"The only way Bryant wins this thing is if he convinces the electorate that Lamar's not conservative," said a Republican strategist. "That's his job."
Mr. Alexander, who is thought to have an advantage in name recognition and fund-raising ability, has been forced to clarify his conservative values, the Republican strategist said.
As part of the "issues" section of his Web site, Mr. Alexander defines his stance on abortion and gun control. "I am pro-life. As senator, I would vote for a ban on partial-birth abortion and against using taxpayer money to fund abortions at home and abroad," he says on the site. On gun control, he says, "Criminals not guns cause crimes," and then goes on to list ways he has and will crack down on criminals, especially those who use guns.
The Republican strategist said the pro-life language in particular is, "more overtly pro-life than he might have stressed" in the past.
"Lamar has clearly taken a step to the right," the Republican strategist said. "I don't think his positions have changed, but he's just never highlighted [some things] before."
But the Alexander spokesman said there has been no shift in the candidate's positions.
"I don't think we're doing much of anything in response to what our opponent is doing," Mr. Phillips said, adding, "People ask all the time about crime and guns and education and everything else," and the issue statements on the Web site are "things he's said while he's been out on the road."
Mr. Alexander's pollster, Whit Ayres, conducted a poll from April 30 through May 2 of 500 likely Republican primary voters. It found Mr. Alexander leading Mr. Bryant, 61 percent to 25 percent.
But a straw poll taken after the May 29 Statesmen's Dinner hosted by the Tennessee Republican Party had Mr. Bryant beating Mr. Alexander, 64 percent to 36 percent. The poll was conducted by the Mark Norris for Congress campaign, and there were a total of 459 votes cast. Mr. Norris is running for Mr. Bryant's House seat.


Copyright © 2018 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