More outside analysis of TN races – Lamar Alexander, DesJarlais

From the WaPo. Don’t believe the hype. There will be some Congress members about to go down. This doesn’t mean anything in the sweeping, national context:

As it happens, two or more incumbents could lose their primaries this week. And we could conceivably even see three or four lose, which would basically be unprecedented.

The confluence of these things could/will undoubtedly cause some folks to blow the dust off the old “anti-incumbent” narrative. Watch out incumbents, they will say.

Don’t listen to them. While there are plenty of incumbents fighting for their jobs this week, very few of their races say much of anything about the bigger picture for members of Congress.

Case in point: Reps. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) and Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.). Among all the incumbents this week, these two are probably the most likely to lose their primaries. But to call them unusual cases would be a disservice to the word “unusual.”

DesJarlais is running in his first primary since it was revealed in October 2012 that he engaged in sexual relationships with patients and co-workers at his medical practice. He urged one of them to have an abortion and also encouraged his ex-wife to have two abortions prior to their marriage. DesJarlais, of course, has run on an antiabortion rights platform.

And NYTimes, which followed Sen. Lamar Alexander around:

“As opposed to Senator Cochran, Lamar has been engaged in this race from go,” said Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee, a Republican.

Mr. Alexander, 74, began his political career 40 years ago with a failed bid for governor. Now, he is a former two-term governor and national education secretary who enjoys a deep relationship with many of his state’s voters. But his brand of center-right politics has made him vulnerable to a more ideologically driven candidate in a state where an earlier generation of moderate Republicans is being replaced by a mix of more conservative younger voters, new arrivals to the state and former Democrats.

Mr. Carr, 56, who has been attracting little notice from state and national conservatives for months, has finally begun to draw attention by criticizing Mr. Alexander for his vote last year on a comprehensive immigration overhaul that includes a pathway to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally that the right deems an amnesty.

That issue has helped win Mr. Carr support from figures such as Laura Ingraham, a radio talk show host, and former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska at a moment when the surge of Central American youths across the United States border has again elevated immigration in the public debate.

Mr. Alexander has responded by denouncing Mr. Obama for his handling of the crisis while making the case that the broader issue is best addressed with the sort of comprehensive legislation he backed last year.

Welp, here’s your national context too, further down in the article:

If both Mr. Alexander and Mr. Roberts win, it would be a significant victory for Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican minority leader, who this year vowed to “crush” conservative challenges of incumbent senators.


About Gerald

A journalist in Knoxville, TN. Work (mostly) inside and play (mostly) outside. I'm a part of the X or the Y generation. None of us claim the other.
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