U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander said on Monday he won’t seek re-election in 2020, saying it’s time for someone else to have the privilege of representing Tennessee.
In a statement he wrote in part, “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.”
In a sit-down interview with News 2 hours after his announcement, Alexander said he decided several months ago not to seek re-election.
“Actually, I decided this in August when I was fishing in Canada,” he said, adding, “I wanted to keep it to myself to make sure it’s the right decision and I have decided that it is. It’s somebody else’s turn… this is the right decision for me, and I think Tennessee.”
Alexander said President Donald Trump just learned of his decision on Sunday night.
“He said, ‘Well, let’s talk about you serving another 20 years.’ And I said, ‘Mr. President, I am going to announce tomorrow I am not running,’ and he said, ‘Why would you do that?’ And we talked about it,” Lamar said.
Alexander is the only Tennessean ever popularly elected both Governor and U.S. Senator. He began his two terms as Tennessee governor 40 years ago.
He also had two unsuccessful attempts as the 1996 and 2000 Republican candidate for president.
A Tennessee native, Alexander was born and raised in Maryville. He also served as the chairman of the National Governors Association and of President Ronald Reagan’s Commission on Americans Outdoors.
He also served as president of the University of Tennessee and U.S. Secretary of Education under President George H.W. Bush and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002.
As far as his legacy, Senator Alexander said, “I think bringing in the auto industry in the 80s. I think that has had more impact. Other governors have expanded it.”
Sen. Bob Corker released a statement on Alexander’s decision saying, “One of the highlights of my time in the Senate has been working with Lamar Alexander. 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. As one of the finest statesmen our state has ever seen, Lamar will leave behind a remarkable legacy. 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. I thank Lamar for his friendship and am excited for Honey and him as they begin to think about their next chapter together.”
Governor-elect Bill Lee said, “Sen. Lamar Alexander has faithfully served Tennesseans at the state and federal level for decades. A seventh-generation Tennessean and principled conservative, our state benefited from his thoughtful leadership. I am thankful for Lamar’s friendship and wish him the best.”