- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Tennessee's former governor, Lamar Alexander, yesterday became the second Republican to announce he will run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Fred Thompson.
"I know better than to try to replace Fred Thompson," said Mr. Alexander, who also served as U.S. education secretary and made two failed bids for the Republican presidential nomination. "But starting today, starting from scratch, I'm going to work as hard as I know how to persuade Tennesseans that I am the right person to succeed him."
Mr. Thompson announced Friday that he would not seek re-election.
On Saturday, Rep. Ed Bryant, Tennessee Republican, declared his candidacy, saying it is "crucial for our party to have a senator that can work together with President George W. Bush instead of attacking and obstructing his positive, compassionate conservative agenda."
Mike Tuffin, communications director for the Republican political action committee GOPAC, said Mr. Alexander is a stronger candidate.
"Both nationally and in Tennessee, Republicans are quickly coming to the realization that this is our strongest possible nominee," said Mr. Tuffin, who worked for Mr. Alexander on both of his presidential bids. "If Lamar's the guy, it's a layup. If Bryant stays in, it's a toss up."
According to Mr. Tuffin, beyond statewide name recognition and the ability to "outraise anyone else in this race," Mr. Alexander "wrote the book" on reaching out to conservative Democrats from rural areas in the state an ability Mr. Tuffin said will be crucial to winning the general election.
A Republican insider from Tennessee said Mr. Alexander will tout his fund-raising ability within the party. "Money is the big thing for Lamar on the inside-ball stuff."
The state Republican source said Mr. Bryant will meanwhile emphasize his work in Washington, his strong conservatism and his role in going after President Clinton as a House impeachment manager.
Tennessee Republican Rep. Zach Wamp yesterday said he wouldn't enter the races, saying his children "are still too young" and he wants to continue focusing on his congressional district for now.
No Democrats have declared their candidacies, but Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr., 31, is aggressively moving in that direction, talking to party leaders and conducting a listening tour that began over the weekend in Memphis and will continue throughout the state.
"There's real appetite for a new kind of leadership in the state a fresh leadership," Mr. Ford said yesterday. "People are excited about the generational shift that my candidacy would bring.
"Based on what I've been able to do in my own district in building blocs of support from so many different groups of people, I believe I can translate that to across the state, if I decide to run," Mr. Ford said.
Another Tennessee Democrat "heavily weighing" entering the Senate race is Rep. Bob Clement.
"Nationally, Ford is a better-known person, but in the state Clement is a stronger name," a state Democratic source said.
The source said Mr. Clement will likely energize the grass-roots organizers in the state, while Mr. Ford will energize the 18-to-30-year-old vote and the female vote.
Other Democrats considering a run include Reps. John Tanner and Bart Gordon, and former National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Jim Hall.
The filing deadline in Tennessee is April 4 and the primary is Aug. 1.


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