Carr, a three-term state representative from Murfreesboro, took the pledge in his opening statement to the crowd of roughly 300 at the Sheraton Music City Hotel. It was the first of five meetings to vet potential challengers to Alexander and to conduct secret straw polls. At the end of September, tea partiers will add up the votes and decide which candidate to back. Carr said if it’s not him, he’s out.
We’re all here for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to beat Lamar Alexander for the United States Senate. Before I go any further, I’m going to tell you that this process is so important that we’ve got to unite around one candidate. However this process works out, I pledge to you that I will support that candidate because it’s that important. We as principled constitutional conservatives can no longer allow ourselves to be divided. We need one candidate who can run against Lamar who can win this election and carry the banner of constitutional conservatism to the United States Senate.
Kookogey, a former chairman of the Williamson County GOP, made a similar promise later in response to a question. Unlike Carr, who announced his candidacy this month, Kookogey hasn’t said whether he’ll run yet.
“The target is Lamar,” Kookogey said, adding that if he decides to run and “if Joe is polling ahead of me and he has more money, absolutely I would step aside and I would give him my money.”
This is bad news for Alexander, who hopes his opponents within the Republican Party will divide their votes in the primary. Splitting the conservative vote arguably is the only reason Bob Corker is a U.S. senator today. He won his primary in 2006 with fewer votes than the combined total of his two more conservative opponents. Bill Haslam did the same thing in his 2010 primary for governor.
Update: Also of note, state Sen. Mae Beavers of Mount Juliet attended. We're sure she was secretly hoping for a spontaneous Draft Mae! movement, but sadly that didn't happen.