Longtime Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander picked up another reelection foe this week, but it came with a surprise gift.
The chief of staff to the new opponent, State Rep. Joe Carr, quit and endorsed Alexander, crediting the senator with turning Tennessee red.
Chip Saltsman added in a letter distributed in the state: "It is because of Lamar Alexander that we live in a state people want to move to, start a family in, start a business in, and even retire to. I am honored to support Lamar Alexander for re-election."
Saltsman had been managing Carr's House campaign primary race against Rep. Scott DesJarlais. But this week, Carr abandoned that bid to take on Alexander, a two-term Republican senator, former governor and former presidential candidate.
Saltsman said that he not only didn't sign up to help Carr beat Alexander, but he credited the senator's years in Tennessee politics for changing the state.
The endorsement of Carr's right hand man should be a boost to Alexander, who has come under fire in some quarters from Tea Party activists. Analysts consider his seat safe.
Saltsman's letter to Carr:
August 20, 2013
Representative Joe Carr PO Box 192
Lascassas, TN 37085
Having learned of your decision to run for the United States Senate, I must resign from your campaign. I signed up to help you run for Congress, not the Senate.
I have been a longtime supporter of Senator Alexander for many reasons, and I will continue to be a strong supporter. When I was Party Chairman in 2000, nobody believed we could beat Al Gore in his home state, but Lamar Alexander worked hard to make sure Al Gore would not, and did not, win his home state. Lamar traveled across the state to help candidates win local, state, and federal races. Most importantly, though, Lamar always told me if conservatives worked hard, and governed effectively, we would soon control state government. And he was right! Due to the hard work of Lamar Alexander, and because he stayed true to his conservative ideals, our state has no income tax, great roads with no debt, and an economy that is the envy of most states.
It is because of Lamar Alexander that people like you have the honor of serving in the majority of the state legislature. It is because of Lamar Alexander that our children and grandchildren go to better schools, and are able to compete for better jobs. It is because of Lamar Alexander that we live in a state people want to move to, start a family in, start a business in, and even retire to. I am honored to support Lamar Alexander for re-election.
Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.