NASHVILLE – A Washington-based group called Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions is spending $280,400 to air a TV ad in support of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s renomination Thursday, and a nonpartisan campaign-finance tracking group reported Tuesday that an energy company is the largest contributor to Alexander’s campaign.
The TV ad, running in Nashville and Knoxville, declares that “Lamar Alexander is a conservative leader … making America less reliant on foreign energy … helping develop cheaper, more reliable American energy through innovation, creating good paying jobs.”
Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES) is an energy-industry group whose website defines “responsible energy” as “domestically produced,” with “private companies and public investment helping give Americans new choices in their sources of energy – natural gas, wind, solar.”
The ad’s visuals show a nuclear power plant, hydroelectric dams and solar panels. It also shows the headline on a 2013 article in the respected National Journal reporting on a speech Alexander gave in Oak Ridge last year that, according to the Journal, laid out a “maverick GOP vision for America’s energy future,” including “a direct acknowledgment of the problem of global warming caused by carbon pollution that calls for more, not less government spending on clean-energy research.”
The Journal article noted that the speech reflected “views Alexander has long espoused. But it’s in stark contrast to the energy and climate positions taken by his party’s leaders since 2010. After the tea party helped fuel the Republican takeover of the House, denying the science of climate change went from a fringe to a mainstream Republican view,” the publication said.
It’s likely not the wording Alexander would have chosen, but the Journal article called him “a moderate with serious energy-policy chops: the top Republican on the Senate panel that funds the Energy Department.” The ad itself refers to the senator as a conservative, which Alexander also calls himself.
CRES’s support for Alexander against two intraparty challengers from his right, state Rep. Joe Carr of Murfreesboro and Memphis radiologist George Flinn, is in line with its efforts this year in support of Republican incumbents against hard-right challengers in GOP primaries. The group spent $267,800 on ads in support of Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and $218,500 in support of U.S. Rep. Michael Simpson, R-Idaho, both of whom easily turned back tea party challengers this summer.
Alexander has long advocated for increased use of nuclear energy, and has opposed tax subsidies for wind power.
CRES’s executive director, James Dozier, said Tuesday that his group’s support of Alexander “is based on his record as a strong national leader developing smarter energy policies for the country. He is a conservative who is fighting for common-sense, free market solutions that will make America less dependent on foreign energy, while creating good paying energy jobs here at home.”
Meanwhile, Maplight, an independent nonpartisan research group that tracks money in politics, reported Tuesday that Exelon, Chicago-based power generator and distributor, was the largest single contributor to Alexander’s campaign at $22,000, followed closely by Nashville-based for-profit hospital company Hospital Corp. of America at $21,800.
Alexander is the ranking Republican member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and is a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
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