Sen. Lamar Alexander is under fired from tea party activists for his vote in support of the immigration reform measure that passed the Senate last month.
According to the Smyrna, Tenn. Daily News Journal, the Tennessee Republican was targeted by about 300 activists at a state Republican Party campaign event recently. Carrying signs reading, "You Betrayed Us," and "No More RINOs. Conservatives Only," the group walked around wearing red "Beat Lamar" T-shirts.
"I didn't hear anything they said; they were a mile away," Alexander told Politico
. "They were enjoying their First Amendment rights, and I was enjoying playing 'Johnny B. Goode' with Mike Huckabee."
The state tea party activists are teaming up with national conservative organizations like FreedomWorks, the Madison Project, and the Senate Conservatives Fund in an effort to recruit a hard conservative to challenge Alexander in next year's primary election.
"Unlike previous cycles, Lamar Alexander is in trouble," said Drew Ryun, political director of the Madison project. "Immigration is the big issue, especially given some of the things he's said in the past. His political doublespeak isn't going to work this time."
The Club for Growth has not said for sure if they will support a primary challenge to Alexander, even though his voting score with the conservative watch dog group has plummeted recently. A spokesman for the club said it "depends on a lot of factors, not the least of which is there has to be an alternative."
Ben Cunningham, founder of the Nashville tea party, says there are plans for some 60 tea party groups across the state to meet in August to see if they can find someone to challenge the senator.
"We're not going to allow the Republican establishment to put the grass roots aside," he said. "They have tried to bully any potential challengers because they don’t want an open debate on Lamar’s voting record. It clearly isn’t conservative."
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