Skip to comments.TN US SENATE RACE: BRYANT POSES THE RISK OF (LAMAR) ALEXANDER'S VULNERABILITY
Posted on 07/30/2002 11:01:50 PM PDT by GailA
Bryant poses the risk of Alexander's vulnerability
By Richard Locker firstname.lastname@example.org July 31, 2002
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Republican Ed Bryant told party activists Tuesday that Democrats will attack Lamar Alexander's personal "financial dealings'' if he wins the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate, leaving the seat vulnerable to a loss. In a campaign stop at the Rutherford County GOP headquarters, Bryant and a prominent campaign supporter, retired TBI director Arzo Carson, cited Alexander's personal finances to bolster Bryant's argument he is more capable of holding the Senate seat for the GOP in the general election.
Bryant said Democrat Bob Clement said last week that he expects to campaign on the issue, which Bryant said will be tied into the nation's corporate accountability scandals that are "volcanic'' with voters.
Only Carson cited any specific financial "dealing'': Honey Alexander's investment in a private prison company while her husband was governor.
Alexander, also campaigning Tuesday in the burgeoning counties ringing Nashville, dismissed the Bryant campaign's statements as desperation.
"My opponent is losing and he's desperate and it's usually best to disregard anything a losing, desperate opponent says in the last two or three days of his campaign.
"They're talking about a person whom the Democrats swore in (as governor) three days early to end corruption in the state, who the Nashville Tennessean said my integrity was never questioned and who the Democratic Senate confirmed unanimously to be U.S. education secretary,'' Alexander said.
Bryant, the Seventh District congressman, told about 20 Murfreesboro Republicans, "I'm just repeating what's out there. I will confess to you that Lamar Alexander has not been indicted or anything like that. But in a political campaign even something innocent can be blown up. A perfectly legitimate transaction is spun in such a way it makes you look like a crook.''
Alexander has achieved modest personal wealth since leaving office as governor in 1987, and political opponents have questioned whether his lucrative investments were aided by connections he made while in office. In a radio interview last week Clement said Alexander "has made a lot of money and made it very fast. I think the question is does he or does he not have any conflicts of interest or appearances of conflicts of interests?''
Alexander said there is nothing in his financial history that would hurt him politically.
Carson, appointed by Alexander to head the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation after becoming governor in 1979, spoke of Alexander's "personal enrichment'' as a campaign weakness. He said a "family member invested $5,200'' in a private prisons company while Alexander was governor "and two years later sold it for $140,000 to $145,000.''
Alexander's wife was one of the original investors in the private Corrections Corporation of America, founded in Nashville in the early 1980s. Alexander said CCA never did business with the state during his tenure and when it tried to contract with the state his wife exchanged her stock in the company for an investment in an insurance company she sold for a profit years later. Records show she sold the shares for $142,000.
Both candidates have scheduled election-eve rallies in Memphis tonight: Alexander at 6 at his campaign headquarters at 5240 Poplar and Bryant at 6:30 at the Memphis Area Homebuilders Association, 776 N. Germantown Parkway.
Contact Nashville Bureau chief Richard Locker at (615) 255-4923.
Former GOP State chair Tommy Hopper has stated that the demon-rats have a 3 or 4 inch thicket folder on lamar's dirt. Seems he's right.
Hmmmm. Seems like Lamar is pretty cozy with Democrats. I would not be bragging about an endorsement from the Marxist Tennessean. Bryant is too good of a guy and loyal party member to hit Lamar with the volumnes of "insider" deals. I doubt that I could have held back.
I will always remember this hideous picture from last year. Lamar seems to have a gleam in his eye as if saying "Al, you are the man!"
Bryant tells voters only his record can withstand attacks
By ROB JOHNSON Staff Writer
MURFREESBORO Ed Bryant's town-square sweep through Middle Tennessee yesterday featured old-fashioned get-out-the-vote appeals, coupled with warnings that his rival may be politically vulnerable in the post-Enron age.
The U.S. congressman from Henderson faces former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander in tomorrow's Republican primary. The men have drawn sharp lines between themselves, with Bryant casting himself as the conservative standard bearer of Tennessee Republicanism, while trying to paint Alexander as the candidate whose time has passed.
He repeated that theme yesterday as he trekked to Hendersonville, Mt. Juliet, Murfreesboro, Franklin, Columbia and Clarksville. Accompanying him on the trail yesterday was Arzo Carson, the man who headed the TBI when Alexander was governor.
Carson told a gathering of Murfreesboro Republicans how in the general election Democrat Bob Clement would target Alexander, who has grown wealthy serving on corporate boards.
Carson likened the Democratic congressman to a race-car driver who is sizing up the leader's weaknesses. ''They're stalking Lamar Alexander,'' said Carson, referring to Democrats. ''They're setting him up right now. They're saying, 'We're going to go after his record.' And the record is going to be the enrichment of himself.''
A Bryant-Clement campaign would be a race on the two congressmen's records. Not so if Alexander is the GOP nominee, Carson said. He specifically mentioned stock that Alexander's wife, Honey, held in a prison management company in the mid-1980s, when the state was struggling to house its prisoners.
Alexander, then governor, proposed privatizing part of Tennessee's prison industry while Honey Alexander held $5,500 in stock in the relatively new Corrections Corporation of America. CCA didn't get a contract to run a Tennessee prison until Alexander had left office. To avoid a conflict, Honey Alexander had swapped the CCA stock for a closely held insurance company. She later sold that for $142,000.
Deals like that, Carson suggested, make Alexander an easy target for the Democrats in the fall. When he heard yesterday about critique from his former TBI director, Alexander managed a chuckle. ''Well, I put him in charge of (the TBI), so I'm surprised he thinks that,'' Alexander said.
After Carson's brief talk to the Rutherford County gathering, Bryant entered the room, but he soon picked up the corporate theme.
Alexander, he said, preferred less stringent regulations against corporate executives, such as those at Enron and WorldCom, who might try to commit multimillion-dollar frauds against shareholders and employees.
''It's no longer good enough just to put these people in jail,'' Bryant said. The aim should be to prevent such frauds from taking place again, he said. He told the room that Alexander said earlier this summer that the markets and existing laws would largely take care of any wrongdoing.
That's not enough, Bryant said.
''We Republicans do believe in some regulation,'' Bryant said. Among the voters, the corporate accountability issue ''is foaming, brewing out there.''
In Chattanooga, Alexander said later yesterday, ''My view is that, number one, the Congress, through its new law, has taken some important steps to penalize corporate fraud. Two, we ought to more vigorously enforce the laws we've got. Three, our focus should be on retirement accounts, helping to make sure that people who have their life savings in 401(k)s aren't penalized by corporate managers who are raiding the treasury
''Finally, I said the marketplace itself is going to provide many of the penalties. You have CEOs testifying and accountants indicted and boards of directors reviewing their procedures. All that's already happened, and that may have the greatest effect of all on the system.''
For the most part, Bryant's stops yesterday were cordial, short visits with clusters of devoted supporters. He told them that he was confident he'd win, that he'd carry some counties in the Republicans' East Tennessee strongholds and carry those votes through to a victory in his native West Tennessee.
In Franklin, Republican Magi Gillogly acknowledged that she likes ''both Ed and Lamar personally.''
''But I'm for Ed. He's more conservative. He's very serious about the military and foreign affairs. That's the kind of candidate we need.''
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