Daniel Doherty

Only two states in the nation host primary elections on days other than Tuesday. And as it happens, Tennessee is one of them.

So at least we have this to look forward to tonight during a painfully slow news week, right?

Tennesseans will go to the polls to vote in party primaries on Thursday — including Sen. Lamar Alexander’s bid for a third term — but nobody really knows why.

All other states — except Hawaii, which votes this Saturday — hold their primaries on a Tuesday. Tennessee even holds its presidential primaries on Super Tuesday. Yet, when it comes time to elect or nominate state or federal candidates, the Volunteer State waits until Thursday.

Why? Per Politico, the reason is because the precedent was first established in Tennessee’s constitution by the Founding Fathers (adopted in the late 18th century) and hasn’t been meddled with since for some reason. Interestingly, too, no one interviewed in the article seems to have a clue as to why that’s the case. Nevertheless, while there are a number of Republican (and Democratic) primaries in Tennessee this evening, the most significant is, unquestionably, Lamar Alexander’s race. The Washington Post explains why:

Alexander is the last of six Republican senators who drew promising primary challengers this year claiming the tea party mantle. If he wins, it will mark the first time since 2008 that conservative insurgents have failed to dislodge a single Republican senator during the primary season.

Needless to say, Tea Partiers in the state are feening for an upset. But how do the polls looks for their preferred candidates? Simply put, there are two conservatives on the ballot tonight who are hoping to unseat Alexander: state Rep. Joe Carr and self-funded radio host George Flinn, neither of whom are particularly favored to win the race. (The former, however, was recently endorsed by Sarah Palin and Laura Ingraham).

Alexander, meanwhile, has a couple things going for him: he has been endorsed by many big-time Republican names in the state, ran an active and aggressive campaign (which seems to be the key to winning these kinds of elections), and outraised his most formidable opponent handily. That being said, especially this primary election season, establishment candidates that perhaps look good on paper have gone on to get creamed on primary night. Thus I wouldn’t completely rule out an upset just yet.

Polls close tonight at 8:00 PM EST.


Daniel Doherty

Daniel Doherty is Townhall's Deputy News Editor. Follow him on Twitter @danpdoherty.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography