Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander will not seek re-election in 2020
After roughly a quarter century in elected office, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee will retire after 2020.
The former Republican governor, who has served in the Senate since first being elected in 2002, said Monday that he will not seek a fourth term in the upper chamber.
“I will not be a candidate for re-election to the United State Senate in 2020,” said Alexander.
He thanked the people of Tennessee, calling them generous.
“I am deeply grateful, but now it is time for someone else to have that privilege,” said Alexander.
His decision means for the second time in two years, Tennessee will have an open U.S. Senate race.
Like Sen. Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican last year declined to run for a third term, Alexander’s announcement will send shockwaves throughout Tennessee’s political landscape.
Contenders will line up for 2020 campaign
Although it is not clear who may vie for the seat, contenders could include Gov. Bill Haslam and incoming U.S. Rep. Mark Green.
Haslam flirted with the idea of running for the Senate when Corker announced his retirement. Green has expressed interest in running for the seat held by Alexander in 2020.
Others who could consider a bid include U.S. Rep. Diane Black and Knoxville entrepreneur Randy Boyd — both of whom unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination for governor earlier this year.
Among Democrats, the list of potential candidates could include Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, state Sen. Jeff Yarbro, state Rep. John Ray Clemmons and Iraq War veteran James Mackler.
Mackler entered the 2018 race but ultimately dropped out when former Gov. Phil Bredesen launched his own campaign.
Alexander remains popular
To some, Alexander’s decision may come as a surprise. In recent years, he has been a continuing presence in Washington, D.C., sponsoring measures related to the music industry, education and opioids that have become law.
Alexander is chairman of the key Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, which handles everything from education policy to issues with the Affordable Care Act.
A recent poll found Alexander remained popular among likely Republican primary voters.
But in many ways, his retirement makes sense. Alexander would be 86 years old by the end of a fourth term.
And although he’s been supportive of President Donald Trump, Alexander could face a Republican challenger who is further to the right on the political spectrum, making a re-election bid more difficult.
When he last ran for re-election in 2014, Joe Carr, a tea party aligned Republican, lost by just 9 points, leading some political observers to see Alexander as vulnerable.
Alexander has storied Tennessee political career
Born in Maryville, Alexander received a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and a law degree from New York University.
In 1965, he served as a law clerk and messenger for John Minor Wisdom, a federal judge with the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. In the late 1960s, Alexander served as assistants to then-U.S. Sen. Howard Baker Jr., and President Richard Nixon.
LAMAR ALEXANDER: Key moments in his life and career
SUBSCRIBE: The latest news delivered to your inbox
Alexander first ran for governor in 1974 but lost to Democrat Ray Blanton — making it Alexander’s only general election defeat in his career. Then in 1978, Alexander ran for governor again, this time famously walking across the state in his successful bid.
Since then, he’s served two terms as governor, three years as president of the University of Tennessee, nearly two years as U.S. Secretary of Education under the late President George H.W. Bush — all before being elected to the U.S. Senate.
He also made unsuccessful presidential runs in 1996 and 2000, dropping out of the race both times.
By the time he departs from the upper chamber, Alexander will have spent more combined years as governor and U.S. Senator than any other Tennessean in history.
Immediately after Alexander announced his decision in a statement, Corker, his colleague in the U.S. Senate, praised him.
“I often tell him he is the legislator of the decade because of the effective way he has worked across the aisle to pass legislation that directly affects the lives of so many throughout our state and around the country,” Corker said.
He called Alexander one of the finest statesmen the state has ever seen.
“I know he will press through the next two years with great vigor, and I look forward to all he will accomplish on behalf of Tennesseans as he completes his service in Washington,” Corker said.
Source: Read Full Article