A coalition of conservative Tea Party groups published an open letter Wednesday urging Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderSenate backs equal pay for female soccer players Overnight Healthcare: Momentum on mental health? | Zika bills head to conference | Only 10 ObamaCare co-ops left Overnight Regulation: GOP slams new Obama education rules MORE (R-Tenn.) to retire instead of seeking a third term next year.
The letter warns Alexander that if he refuses to “retire with dignity,” he will eventually face a significant primary challenge from the right.
“America faces serious challenges and needs policymakers who will defend conservative values, not work with those who are actively undermining those values.”
The letter also makes reference to Alexander's Little Plaid Book, a short work of political advice he published in 1998. The letter said he should follow the book's advice to “serve two terms, then get out,” rather than fall into a “mire of hypocrisy.”
The letter is signed by 20 different groups, most of them county-level Tea Party organizations in Alexander’s state.
Alexander has played a major role in crafting several bipartisan Senate measures in recent months. In July, he helped break an impasse over federal student loan rates, and in June, he supported the Senate’s immigration reform bill.
Alexander is not the first senator against whom Tea Party groups have exerted pressure. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellIn House GOP, Ryan endorsement of Trump seen as inevitable McConnell: Trump White House will have ‘constraints’ Nearly 400 House bills stuck in Senate limbo MORE (R-Ky.) and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamSenators to Obama: Make 'timely' call on Afghan troops levels Senate amendments could sink email privacy compromise Trump: Romney 'walks like a penguin' MORE (R-S.C.) are also facing primary challenges from foes claiming to be more unflinchingly conservative.
The full text of the letter, as emailed to news media, may be read below:
An Open Letter To Senator Alexander
You have served a long and marked career. You have been a part of the Tennessee political scene for as long as most of us can remember. You have worked for Howard Baker, Winfield Dunn, served as Governor, were appointed to be the Secretary of Education of the federal government, President of the University of Tennessee, were a serious contender for the nomination of the Republican Party for President, and of course you are currently serving as a United States Senator. Your life-long career in government service is noteworthy.
During your tenure in the Senate we have no doubt that you voted in a way which you felt was appropriate. Unfortunately, our great nation can no longer afford compromise and bipartisanship, two traits for which you have become famous. America faces serious challenges and needs policymakers who will defend conservative values, not work with those who are actively undermining those values. Quite honestly, your voting record shows that you do not represent the conservative values that we hold dear and the votes you have cast as Senator are intolerable to us. Furthermore we have serious doubts about your ability to fix our problems since you have played such a significant role in creating them.
The Little Plaid Book you authored contains very sage advice on politics. Rule #297 is especially important because you advise anyone running for office to “Serve two terms, then get out.” Are you willing to follow your own advice, or will you fall into the mire of hypocrisy?
As you are likely aware, there have been polls conducted that show your vulnerability. While no viable contender has yet emerged, it is becoming more probable with each passing day that one will rise to the challenge. When a serious contender eventually does enter the race, the moment their fundraising capability makes them a viable candidate, your re-election is in serious jeopardy.
Therefore, we urge you to conclude your long and notable career by retiring with dignity instead of fighting against a serious conservative primary challenger who would expose to all Tennessee voters the actual history of your voting record.
Sevier County Tea Party
Tea Party of Lincoln County
Gibson County Patriots
Benton County Tea Party
Carroll County Tea Party
Jackson Madison County Tea Party
Dickson County Tea Party / 912 Project
Obion County Tea Party
Stewart County Tea Party
Tennesseans for Liberty (Madison County)
Volunteers for Freedom (Henry County)
We the People (Tipton County)
Rutherford County Tea Party
TN 9-12 Project
Caney Branch Tea Party
TN Republican Assembly
Smoky Mountain Tea Party Patriots (Blount Co)
McMinn County TEA Party
North Sumner Tea Party
Tennessee 8th District Tea Party Coalition