The race had been Alexander's to lose -- positioning a well-known two-term senator and former governor against tea party upstart Joe Carr, a state legislator who had big-name support from
With five other Republicans running for the nomination, voters split among the choices, which included a doctor, George Flinn, who largely self-financed his campaign. The Associated Press called the race for Alexander about 6:30 p.m. Pacific time.
Earlier in the day, the candidates made a strong push on a sleepy Thursday in August, with Alexander's volunteers fanning across the state and Carr making last-minute campaign stops, including lunch at the Slick Pig BBQ in
Carr had positioned himself as a hard-right alternative to Alexander, who is known as a pragmatic Republican. Once the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, Alexander stepped down from party leadership to focus more recently on ways to bridge the partisan divide with Democrats. Carr used the senator's vote for a bipartisan
"Any Republican in TN who votes for @SenAlexander is voting for Barack Obama's amnesty," tweeted
The challenger raised $1.3 million compared to Alexander's nearly $7 million war chest. Carr had little support from the national conservative groups that have pushed other candidates, including
Carr had his own stumbles, including on his debut campaign ad, when he misspelled the word Senate as "Sentate."
"With Joe Carr, we're not talking about
"The thing people have to keep in mind about Tennessee is, it has a reputation as a red state, and it is, but it's not as red as you think."