Lamar Alexander preempts Tea Party challenge with Mike Huckabee rally

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Tea Party,Tennessee,Campaigns,Lamar Alexander,Mike Huckabee

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander pulled off a coup of sorts over the weekend, winning the endorsement of a country music star and a popular Tea Party figure as the Republican ramps up his reelection campaign despite some complaining from local Tea Party groups.

At an Alexander event Saturday to honor Tennessee GOP county party chairs, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, now a national radio host popular with conservatives and Tea Party followers, said, "I don't get to vote in Tennessee. But if I did I would be voting for Lamar Alexander. I wouldn't hesitate. I wouldn't listen to any distractions. Because I would let his record speak and speak clearly and speak loudly."

The folksy Huckabee, a 2008 presidential candidate, called Alexander "one of the best friends that I've got in politics." And he added that Alexander should get credit for fighting President Obama's policies, from health care reform to an effort to limit where people can fish.

"I just want you to understand something; a federal government that doesn't have anything better to do than to tell people in the middle of the country, in Tennessee, where they can fish is a federal government that is way too big and needs somebody to take 'em on and bring 'em back down to size and Lamar Alexander is already proven he's that person," said Huckabee.

At the event attended by 500, Grammy-winning country star Steve Wariner led Huckabee on bass and Alexander on electric piano in a rocking version of "Johnny B. Goode."

Wariner said that he was "glad to be here playing some tunes for my buddy Lamar Alexander, and called Huckabee "a great bass player."

A recent state poll found that many Tea Party supporters back Alexander, but some have recently criticized his voting as not conservative enough. Efforts to find a Tea Party challenger to Alexander have so far failed.

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.