U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced Monday he will not seek re-election in 2020.
“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 said in a statement.
Alexander was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002. He was previously governor from 1979 to 1987. He also served as president of the University of Tennessee and U.S. Secretary of Education under President George H.W. Bush. In October 2019, he will have served more combined years as governor and U.S. Senator than any other Tennessean.
At the end of his term, Alexander will be the longest serving Governor and Senator in the state’s history.
Alexander has also served as U.S. Secretary of Education and University of Tennessee President.
Alexander said Monday his decision came to him while fishing in Canada in August. “I get up every day thinking I can do some good for the country. I go to bed at night thinking that I have. I’ll keep doing that for two more years, but this is the right decision for me and I think for Tennessee,” he said.
He’s planning on finishing strong, too.
The outgoing Senator says he’ll tackle healthcare costs and work to make applying for college financial aid simpler. Based on experience, he expects the remaining years to be even more productive. “When I was Governor, looking back, I got more done in the last 2-3 years than the whole rest of my term, even though people knew I was leaving,” he said.
Alexander said in a phone call to President Trump, that he wouldn’t name his successor, but said there was “a barn full of” good candidates.
He did say if outgoing Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam were to run, he’d be the strongest candidate. He also named U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Bill Hagerty, as an option. Alexander said the President liked both options.
“I hope I leave office with my reputation in tact. That’s hard to do in the world we live in today. I hope people think of me as someone who tried to get up every morning thinking of something good to do for the state and for the country and going to bed most nights having done it.”
Some of Alexander’s key accomplishments he listed off following his announcement include his work for the auto industry in the 1980s, building up the road system and education reform.
In the Senate, Alexander pointed to repairing No Child Left Behind, getting rid of the Common Core mandate and handing the decisions back to local school districts. He pointed recent legislation including 21st century cures and the Opioid Response Act.
WATE 6 On Your Side asked Gov. Bill Haslam last week if Alexander decided not to run about the possibility of a Haslam For Senate campaign, this was his response:
“First of all, Lamar is a great Senator. People don’t appreciate how good he is. I see it as Governor, I see issues that he works out for us in Washington. Let me start there. I think too much of the role ot say I would never do it. We’re looking forward to finishing this and going back to Knoxville. We’re not going to make any definitive statements. My hope is Lamar will run again. I think he’s been that good. If you’re asking, as a citizen of Tennessee, I’m hoping he runs again.”