Professional quarterback Peyton Manning is rumored to run for office as Tennessee’s next senator, according to a Saturday report from a local CBS affiliate.
The proposed run would only happen if current Sen. Lamar Alexander decided not to run in 2020, a decision the incumbent senator said wasn’t going to happen. Politico initially published the rumor in its insider daily newsletter, and Alexander’s office was quick to reject the claim.
“Like everybody else in Tennessee, Senator Alexander is a big fan of Peyton Manning,” said Alexander Chief of Staff David Cleary in a statement. “The senator has made no formal decision about 2020 but he’s fundraising and taking the steps one would take to prepare for re-election.”
“Alexander had a 60 percent job approval rating in the latest Vanderbilt University poll and is busy as chairman of the Senate health and education committee repairing the damage caused by Obamacare and implementing the law fixing No Child Left Behind,” the statement continued. “He’s also focused on maintaining a Republican majority in 2018 and helping Senator Corker with his campaign in Tennessee.”
Although Alexander’s response appears to put the subject to rest, Manning has increased his political profile lately. The football star recently attended and spoke during the winter retreat of Congressional Republican leaders, a meeting that President Donald Trump attended.
The 76-year-old senator served in his current role for the past 14 years, but served as the U.S. Secretary of Education under former President George H.W. Bush, and also served eight years as the governor of Tennessee. The senior senator’s most important positions strategically include seats on the highly influential Rules and Appropriations Committees.
Alexander’s senate seat is considered a relatively safe Republican position, meaning any Republican who wins the primary is likely to win the seat in November of 2020. Although he easily dispatched the Democratic Challenger, Alexander faced six Republican challengers in the 2014 primary, including state Rep. Joe Carr, who earned nearly 41 percent, cutting Alexander’s numbers to 49 percent in the Republican primary.
2020 is a long time away, and Alexander will be 80 by the time of the election.
GOP-leaning Manning did not say if he’d run as a Republican.
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