Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander likely secured his Senate seat for another term Thursday, handily winning the GOP primary in a safe Republican state.
Alexander led state Rep. Joe Carr 52.4 percent to 37.4 percent, with 20 percent of precincts reporting when The Associated Press called the race.
His victory means no Republican senators have lost a primary challenge, ending the tea party's streak at two cycles. None of the remaining primaries feature a Republican senator .
Alexander took pre-emptive action to avoid a challenge from his right as serious as some of his Republican colleagues faced. He announced re-election plans early and locked down the support of the major Republicans in the state — cementing himself as the frontrunner and ensuring none would challenge him. The senator also raised a formidable sum of money that Carr simply couldn't compete with.
Carr ran as the underdog, focusing his campaign on his opposition to the immigration overhaul, and Alexander’s vote for that bill. He got a momentum boost when then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., fell in a primary to a longshot opponent. Like Virginia's Dave Brat, Carr’s major sources of support were conservative talk radio personalities like Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin.
But Alexander is an institution in Tennessee, and Carr’s insurgent campaign could not keep up. Carr, who originally challenged GOP Rep. Scott DesJarlais, switched races in August 2013 and became Alexander's first and only legitimate challenger.
Alexander issued a statement after his win calling himself a "get-it-done senator" with conservative credentials. He noted he and Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, who also won his primary, can give a good speech, then made his point.
"If we want to change Obamacare or fix the debt or reverse the trend toward a national school board we are going to have to do more than make a speech," Alexander said. "We are going to have to pass something in the Congress, and we need senators who know how and are willing to work with other people to do that."
A handful of Democrats sought their party's Senate nomination, but the race is rated Safe Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
Officials are still tallying votes in House races.
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