Staffers from the Nashville area wearing “Beat Lamar” T-shirts passed buckets down the rows of the Life Fellowship Baptist Church on Thursday evening, hoping they would bring in funds that might give Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Carr an extra push moving toward election day.
Around 100 supporters, including many locals, people who traveled with Carr to canvass Johnson City to knock on doors in an attempt to drum up support and several local politicians were in attendance at the rally, put on by a local tea party group. District Attorney General Tony Clark, state Rep. Tony Shipley, state Rep. Micah Van Huss, state Rep. Matthew Hill, Republican Committeman candidate Kent Harris and others were on hand to try to help give Carr an extra local push.
Just a week away from the big election and having heard that his opponent, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, had several million more dollars on hand to spend on the election, Carr said he would welcome Alexander spending more money because the totals aren’t as important as the issues.
“He’s been raising money for six years, so he better raise more than me and he better spend more than me,” Carr said. “The voters of Tennessee aren’t so easily bought. It doesn’t matter if Lamar spends $3 million, $6 million or $9 million. The fact of the matter is, what do we have to do to get our message out that there is a reliable conservative who is reasonably articulate?”
Carr, from Lascassas, has been attacking Alexander’s level of conservatism lately, saying he had voted with President Barack Obama 60 percent of the time, which is something that shouldn’t be supported by Tennesseans.
“Don’t take my word for it,” Carr said about comparing his level of conservatism with Alexander’s. “Let’s see what (the Heritage Action for America website) says. They score him at 47 or 48 percent. He’s one of the worst Republicans in the Senate. The average Republican score from (the website) is 67. He’s 20 points below the Senate Republican average.”
He went on to say where he would compare with Alexander’s ratings.
“American Conservative Union gave Lamar a 60 percent conservative rating,” he said. “American Conservative Union gave Joe Carr a 100 percent rating.”
These figures are important to him because he said it reflects on the set of principles in which a person believes. He boasts national-level endorsements from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and radio host Laura Ingraham.
When Carr took the microphone from Shipley, Van Huss, Hill and others helping organize the rally, he shared with the crowd some things he’s against, saying that while his opponent isn’t exactly for them, he doesn’t fight hard enough against them. A frequently brought up example was the topic of illegal immigration, which Carr said he was against and Alexander is extremely soft on.
“Amen,” was shouted from the floor of the church as Carr explained his position on several other topics. Though Pastor David Guinn said he couldn’t legally endorse or vocally offer support to any candidate, he did lead a long prayer in which he said the Christian god calls upon his people to support the truth. The church’s lawn was covered in nearly 100 signs supporting the candidates featured at the rally.
Johnson City’s Charles Trifiletti said he’d already cast a vote for Carr, but wanted to show up to meet and support the man. He, like Carr, took issue with the way Alexander conducts business in Washington, saying he sides with Obama too much.
“We already have laws on the books and Obama doesn’t enforce them,” Trifiletti said about immigration, saying it’s cruel what the administration does to the illegal children who come to the U.S.
An aide with Alexander’s camp said he could boast about how much time Alexander had spent in the state — more than half of his nights over his 12 years in his current position — even as the Senate was in session in Washington, D.C., Monday through Friday.
Carr’s canvassers admitted that most of them were coming to Johnson City for the first time and it was all new to them, but Carr said he was very familiar with the area and its issues, noting his endorsements from Shipley, Van Huss and Hill.
“I live in Middle Tennessee, but every time I come to East Tennessee, it feels like home, so we’ll fight at home here in East Tennessee,” he said.
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