Tea party activists in Tennessee plan to hold "auditions" in a bid to find a charismatic, conservative politician to challenge Sen. Lamar Alexander in the 2014 GOP primary.
Party officials will kick off the quest Aug. 31 in Nashville where they will listen to a series of prospective candidates talk about the various issues facing the nation, The Tennessean reports
Other tryouts will take place in Memphis, Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Johnson City.
"Everybody has agreed that we need to get behind a single candidate and put our efforts behind someone who can challenge Lamar, debate his public record . . . Basically just push back against the Republican establishment that is trying to bully and intimidate anyone who wants to run against him," Nashville Tea Party President Ben Cunningham told the newspaper.
Alexander is running for a third term. The primary is a year away next August.
The Coalition for a Constitutional Senate — made up of 60 Tennessee tea party and conservative groups — is sponsoring the meeting with potential candidates.
"We’re looking for somebody who will represent Tennessee as well as Ted Cruz represents Texas. And we’ll find that candidate," Michael Patrick Leahy, co-founder of the "Beat Lamar" campaign, told the newspaper.
Expected to speak at the forums so far are Brenda Lenard, who lost to U.S. Sen. Bob Corker in the GOP primary two years ago; Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett; and Kevin Kookogey, former chairman of the Williamson County Republican Party.
According to the Tennessean, tea party organizers oppose Alexander for several of his positions, including his support of the comprehensive immigration reform bill now being debated on Capitol Hill.
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