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Posted: Thursday, August 24, 2017 02:17 AM

Updated: Thursday, August 24, 2017 02:17 AM

Joe Carr Considering Primary Challenge Against U.S. Sen. Bob Corker In 2018

Joe Carr, who has twice challenged Tennessee Republicans in Congress over the last three years but lost both primary races, is now weighing a run against U.S. Sen. Bob Corker in 2018.

Sensing an anti-establishment undercurrent again, the tea party-aligned former Tennessee state representative from Lascassas confirmed he's thinking about challenging Corker, R-Tenn., for the Republican nomination.

Carr said he gets "calls and messages on a daily basis" encouraging him to do so. He said his candidacy would have an appeal "in the age of Trump," predicting 2018 would not be kind to incumbents.

"Like Donald Trump, I speak my mind. I know what I believe. I know why I believe it," Carr told the USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee. "I believe I can articulate it, which generates a lot of interest."

Corker, who still hasn't formally announced whether he will seek a third term next year, has been both a vocal supporter and critic of President Trump.

Most recently, following Trump's reaction to a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Corker said Trump hasn't demonstrated that he understands the nation's character and has not shown the competence needed to lead.

Anticipating a possible opening and backlash within the Republican electorate, multiple Republicans are pondering challenging Tennessee's junior U.S. senator.

Andrew Ogles, state director for Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee, an advocacy organization founded by the conservative Koch Brothers, is said to be considering a run against Corker. Ogles declined to comment.

State Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, has also expressed interest.

Corker, through a spokesperson, declined to comment on the senator's re-election plans and Carr's interest in the seat.

Carr said Corker has been "too critical of the president and publicly outspoken."

"It's OK to be critical of your party leader and your president, but I think there's a protocol and an etiquette that he has forgotten, especially for somebody who is so sensitive as Sen. Bob Corker seems to be when he's faced some criticisms."

Corker has said he made his criticism of Trump in the hopes that it would "influence (the president) and the people around him."

On the Democratic side, James Mackler, a Nashville attorney, is seeking the Democratic nomination for Corker's Senate seat.

Carr said he would make up his mind some time after his annual "T-Bones and Politics" fundraiser on Sept. 14.

Carr has also registered a Super PAC with the Federal Election Commission called "Stand Firm America" that he said would get involved in federal races. He said further details will be announced at the event.

Despite facing a massive fundraising disadvantage, Carr ran a competitive primary race against Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., in 2014, keeping the incumbent below 50 percent in the primary and himself finishing with 41 percent.

But he miscalculated a run last year against U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Gallatin. An effort to paint Black as part of the Washington establishment flopped as Black crushed Carr by 64 percent to 32 percent.

Carr ran unsuccessfully in 2014 for chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party chairman, entered but later exited the 2014 primary against U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-South Pittsburg, and earlier this year flirted with a run for governor.

"I'm sensitive to the tag of a perennial candidate," Carr said. "I know The Tennessean likes to put that label on me from time to time. And I get it. I wouldn't consider myself a perennial candidate because my motivation has never been about being elected to office but being engaged in the fight with regards to the ideas, principles and the values that I think are worth defending and promoting."

Reach Joey Garrison at 615-259-8236, jgarrison@tennessean.com and on Twitter @joeygarrison.

The Tennessean

 

 

 

 

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