Alexander Statement on 2020 Senate Election

Posted on December 17, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn., December 17, 2018 – United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement:

“I will not be a candidate for re-election to the United States Senate in 2020. 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. 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. I will continue to serve with that same spirit during the remaining two years of my term.”

Alexander is the only Tennessean ever popularly elected both Governor and U.S. Senator.  His 2008 general election vote total of 1,579,477 is the largest ever received by a statewide candidate. 

Alexander is chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. He authored opioids legislation signed into law in October which President Trump called “the single largest bill to combat a drug crisis in the history of our country.” In 2016, he wrote the “21st Century Cures Act,” which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called “the most important law of this Congress.”  In 2015, Alexander authored the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” fixing “No Child Left Behind.” President Obama called the new law “a Christmas miracle,” and the Wall Street Journal said it was the “largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter century.” As chairman of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations subcommittee, Alexander provided four years of record funding for national laboratories, supercomputing and waterways, including restarting Chickamauga Lock. You can read more about the senator’s work here.

A seventh-generation Tennessean born and raised in Maryville, Alexander was twice elected governor of Tennessee.  He was chairman of the National Governors Association and of President Ronald Reagan’s Commission on Americans Outdoors. He then served as president of the University of Tennessee and U.S. Secretary of Education under President George H.W. Bush.   In 2002, he was elected to the United States Senate and was re-elected in 2008 and 2014.  His Republican colleagues elected him three times to be chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.

He is a country and classical pianist who has performed on the Grand Ole Opry and for the Billy Graham Crusade. When not in public office, he co-founded a law firm and two successful businesses. He and Leslee Kathryn [Honey] Buhler married on January 4, 1969. They have four children and nine grandchildren.

For photos and b-roll, click here.

Highlights: United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)

  • Born July 3, 1940, Maryville, Tennessee; seventh generation East Tennessean; father was an elementary school principal and mother was a pre-school teacher; 
  • Only Tennessean ever popularly elected both Governor and U.S. Senator;
  • 2008 general election vote total of 1,579,477 is the largest ever received by a statewide candidate;  
  • In October 2019, will have served more combined years (24 years, 9 months) as Governor and U.S. Senator than any other Tennessean;
  • In his 1978 campaign for governor, walked 1022 miles across Tennessee spending the night with 73 families; on January 17, 1979, Democrat legislative leaders swore him in three days early because of scandals surrounding incumbent governor;
  • As Governor (1979-1987)  helped bring the auto industry to Tennessee, recruiting Nissan and Saturn and sponsoring three major road programs to attract auto parts suppliers; led Tennessee to become the first state to pay teachers more for teaching well; left office with fewer state employees, third lowest per capita taxes, AAA bond rating and zero road debt;
  • Elected U.S. Senator in 2002 (54% vs. Bob Clement, 44%); re-elected 2008(65% vs. Bob Tuke, 32%); re-elected 2014 (62% vs Gordon Ball, 32%);  
  • As Senator, while he was chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (2015-2019), reported 45 bills that became law. Alexander was principal author of most of these laws including the 2015 “Every Student Succeeds Act,” which President Obama called, “a Christmas miracle,” and the Wall Street Journal said it was the “greatest devolution of power to states in a quarter century.” For this, the nation’s governors and the National Education Association gave Alexander their highest award. Alexander authored the “21stCentury Cures Act,” which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called “the most important law of this Congress” in 2016. In 2018, he authored the Opioid Crisis Response Act, which McConnell called “landmark legislation.” As chairman of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations subcommittee over fiscal years 2016 through 2019, Alexander provided four years of record funding for national laboratories, supercomputing and waterways, including restarting Chickamauga Lock;
  • Alexander has also been a principal author of “The America COMPETES Act” (2007), legislation reforming student loans (2015), modernizing how songwriters are paid (2018), funding the National Park Service maintenance backlog (2018). 
  • Chairman of the National Governors Association (1985-1986) and U.S. Senate Republican Conference (2007-2012); President, University of Tennessee (1988-1991); U.S. Secretary of Education for President George H.W. Bush (1991-1993); Chairman, President Reagan’s Commission on Americans Outdoors (1986); Professor of Practice in Public Service, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government (2001-2002);  
  • When not in public office, co-founded a law firm (1972) and two successful businesses: Blackberry Farm, Inc. (1976) and Corporate Child Care, Inc. (1987).
  • He is an elder in Westminster Presbyterian Church, Nashville.   

 

###

Lamar Alexander is the senior senator from Tennessee, and he serves as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. For his full biography, click here.