State Rep. Joe Carr announces Lamar Alexander challenge

Carr made the announcement to WTN-FM host Ralph Bristol on Tuesday. | AP Photo

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/WVLT) -- Tennessee State Rep. Joe Carr says he'll challenge incumbent Lamar Alexander for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate next year.

The decision to challenge Alexander means Carr will abandon his bid to oust incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais in the 4th Congressional District.

DesJarlais is considered vulnerable because of his past infidelities and once having encouraged his wife and a lover to seek abortions. Meanwhile, Alexander is headed into his bid for a third term in the Senate with $3.1 million on hand through the first half of the year.

Carr made the announcement to WTN-FM host Ralph Bristol on Tuesday.

Carr's announcement quickly cost him the support of longtime Republican operative Chip Saltsman, who resigned from his campaign almost immediately upon learning the Tennessee Representative planned on challenging Alexander.

"I signed up to help you run for Congress, not the Senate," wrote Saltsman in a letter to Carr that was released to the media. "It is because of Lamar Alexander that people like you have the honor of serving in the majority in the state legislature."

The announcement pre-empts a series of statewide "vetting" sessions tea party groups have scheduled to evaluate potential challengers to Alexander, whom they consider too moderate.

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