GOP’s Lamar Alexander Won’t Run for Re-Election in 2020

Tennessee lawmaker said it's 'time for someone else to have' the 'privilege' of serving the state in the Senate

Image Credit: Alex Wong & Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced Monday that he will not be running for re-election in 2020 because “it is time for someone else to have that privilege.”

As President Donald Trump, his potential Democratic challengers, and members of Congress are all gearing up for the 2020 political showdowns, Alexander, 78, has decided that 2020 will mark the end of his Senate career.

“I will not be a candidate for re-election to the United States Senate in 2020,” Alexander (pictured above right) said in a statement released Monday. “The people of Tennessee have been very generous, electing me to serve more combined years as governor and senator than anyone else from our state.”

“I am deeply grateful, but now it is time for someone else to have that privilege,” Alexander added. “I have gotten up every day thinking that I could help make our state and country a little better, and gone to bed most nights thinking that I have.”

Alexander said he will “continue to serve with that same spirit during the remaining two years of my term” in the Senate.

Alexander was Tennessee’s governor from 1979 to 1987. After serving as the president of the University of Tennessee for three years, Alexander worked in former President George H.W. Bush’s administration as the secretary of the Department of Education.

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After unsuccessfully vying for the GOP presidential nomination in both 1996 and 2000, Alexander ran for the Senate in 2002.

He has served in the Senate since 2003 and currently chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

The retiring senator established a reputation as a bipartisan and relatively centrist Republican lawmaker in Tennessee.

Tennessee’s other current senator, Bob Corker (R), did not run for re-election in 2018; he will be replaced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)(above left) following her victory against former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) in November.

“His leadership is a model to be emulated, and I have appreciated working with him on the issues most important to Tennessee families,” Blackburn added.

“Sen. Alexander’s service to our state has been nothing but exemplary,” Blackburn (above left) said in a statement posted to Twitter. “He has proven to be an effective advocate for Tennesseans — from improving our education system to preserving our state’s natural beauty and establishing patient-centered health care options.”

“His leadership is a model to be emulated, and I have appreciated working with him on the issues most important to Tennessee families,” Blackburn added.

“We’ll continue that work over the next two years, and his impact on our state will be felt for decades to come.”

Corker said in a statement that “one of the highlights of my time in the Senate has been working with Lamar Alexander.”

Related: Marsha Blackburn Wins Tennessee Senate Election

“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 also said. “As one of the finest statesmen our state has ever seen, Lamar will leave behind a remarkable legacy.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday on the Senate floor that Alexander is “one of the most consequential senators on domestic policy in memory.”

“So the Senate will be lesser without Lamar’s wisdom, collegiality, and expertise when he retires. I am glad that day is two years away and grateful that we’ll keep benefiting from his leadership through the 116th Congress,” McConnell said.

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel wrote on Twitter, “Lamar Alexander’s career is the definition of public service. He’s served as an executive at both the state and federal level, and is now one of the Senate’s most distinguished members.”

“He’s been a strong leader for our party and our nation,” she also said.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) tweeted, “I regret very much that an outstanding colleague & friend U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander is retiring. Big loss for Tennessee/for the country & for the Senate.”

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