- Associated Press - Friday, June 13, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - U.S. Senate candidate Gordon Ball said Friday that he is pouring up to $400,000 of his own money into a statewide television advertising campaign to bolster his bid for the Democratic nomination.

Ball, who estimated his net worth as between $10 million and $20 million, said he plans to self-fund much of his primary campaign. He told reporters he plans to emphasize his centrist political leanings, which he said stand in contrast with the positions of his chief rival Terry Adams, a fellow Knoxville attorney.

“Mr. Adams proclaims himself progressive liberal - I don’t see myself that way,” Ball said. “I’m a moderate Democrat. … I don’t believe in being on the far left or the far right.”

The ads are scheduled to begin running in most media markets around the state on June 30. The primary is on Aug. 7.

Ball acknowledged once appearing on a list of Democrats who supported incumbent Republican Lamar Alexander’s Senate bids, but on Friday called that decision “a huge mistake.”

“I never voted for Lamar Alexander,” he said. “But I put my name on that, and I probably shouldn’t have.”

Alexander is running for a third term this year, and faces tea party-styled state Rep. Joe Carr of Murfreesboro and Memphis radio station owner George Flinn in the Republican primary.

Carr has tried to draw parallels to this week’s shock defeat of U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by a little-known college professor Dave Brat in the Virginia Republican primary, and to veteran Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran being forced into a June 24 runoff by state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

“No race should be taken for granted and all the money and position in the world doesn’t resonate with an electorate that is fed up with a Washington establishment that has abandoned conservative principles,” Carr said.

Through the first quarter of the year, Alexander had outspent Carr by a ratio of 8-to-1 and had more than $3 million remaining on hand. Carr, meanwhile, had $467,000 remaining. No outside money has been spent on the race, according to the Federal Election Commission.

But Tom Ingram, Alexander’s chief campaign strategist, said the Cochran and Cantor results have little bearing on Tennessee.

“Candidates who are in touch, candidates who stay close to their constituents and serve them well get elected,” he said. “And that’s exactly what I expect to happen in this race.”

With early primary voting set to begin on July 31, Ingram said there’s little time to change the trajectory of the race that has seen Carr gain little traction.

“It’s getting late,” he said.

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