Conservative Group's Endorsement a Snub to Lamar Alexander

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:29pm EDT

( - Despite Lamar Alexander's status as a former presidential candidate, U.S. education secretary and governor, a leading conservative group has endorsed Alexander's opponent in Thursday's Republican primary for Tennessee's U.S. Senate seat.

Rep. Ed Bryant got the nod from the American Conservative Union's political action committee.

"In the Tennessee primary, the conservative choice is clear. His name is Ed Bryant," said ACU-PAC chairman David Keene.

"The American Conservative Union PAC is actively engaged in supporting candidates across the country who best embody the conservative principles and the commonsense values on which the ACU was founded," said Keene.

Bryant's House voting record proves his conservative credentials, Keene said.

"Ed Bryant has proven his dedication to conservative causes vote after vote. His lifetime ACU rating of 97 makes it clear that Bryant is the legitimate conservative candidate in the Tennessee GOP Senate primary," he said.

"Ed Bryant will prove to be a reliable vote in the Senate for important conservative issues including: advocating tax cuts, eliminating government waste, supporting President Bush's judicial nominees, protecting gun rights and ensuring a strong national defense," Keene added.

With Democrats clinging to a one-vote majority in the Senate, every race this fall could serve to either strengthen Democratic control or shift it to the Republicans. In Tennessee, the decision by Republican Sen. Fred Thompson to retire is forcing the GOP to defend a seat it had previously considered safe. The winner of Thursday's primary will face Democratic U.S. Rep. Bob Clement in the general election.

In a recent poll conducted by Ayres, McHenry and Associates on behalf of Alexander's campaign, Alexander led Bryant, 56 to 24 percent.

Kevin Phillips, Alexander's campaign spokesman, said he wasn't surprised about the ACU's endorsement of Bryant.

"Both candidates are good conservatives," Phillips said. "They are both good Republicans, they both support the president. It is not surprising that ACU endorsed Bryant because he has been in Congress working with them. But should we win the primary election, we look forward to working with them in the general election."

The Bryant campaign was "very pleased and honored to have the (ACU) endorsement," according to its spokesman Justin Hunter.

"Congressman Bryant has been a solid, consistent conservative in Congress for the better part of eight years since he's been there. This is a reflection of his record," Hunter said.

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