Lamar Alexander Is Leaving The Senate After 2020

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Evie Fordham Politics and Health Care Reporter
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Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander will not run for re-election in 2020, he announced Monday.

“I will not be a candidate for re-election to the United States Senate in 2020,” he said in a statement. “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.”

The 78-year-old has been a senator since 2003 and had a key role in the battle to shape health care as chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

“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 continued in his statement. “I will continue to serve with that same spirit during the remaining two years of my term.” (RELATED: A Lot Of News Happened In 2018. Here Are The Stories That Stuck With Republicans And Democrats)

The 2020 race will be Tennessee’s second contest for an open Senate seat in two years, reported USA Today. Tennesseans voted in their first female senator, Republican Marsha Blackburn, in November.

Names are already floating for who could replace Alexander, whose experience included eight years as Tennessee’s governor and two years as the U.S. secretary of education under late President George H.W. Bush.

Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Lamar Alexander confer as they depart the U.S. Capitol following a vote, on July 10, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Al Drago/Getty Images)

Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Lamar Alexander confer as they depart the U.S. Capitol following a vote, on July 10, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Al Drago/Getty Images)

Tennessee politicians including outgoing Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, Republican Rep. Diane Black or Democratic Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke could run for Alexander’s seat, reported USA Today.

If he had chosen to run again, Alexander would have been 86 by the end of his fourth term, reported USA Today.

Tributes to Alexander started to roll in soon after his Monday announcement.

“It’s been great working with you Chairman [Alexander]! You are a true champion for school choice and ensuring every child has access to a quality education,” South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott wrote on Twitter Monday. “Your hard work on behalf of the people of TN and the nation are forever appreciated.”

“Lamar Alexander’s career is the definition of public service,” Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel wrote on Twitter Monday. “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.”

Alexander sponsored the wide-reaching Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 that President Donald Trump signed in October.

Some of his other legislative efforts include a more centrist bill he offered as an alternative to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act in 2017. He also received praise for reducing federal control over education with the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act that rolled back parts of former President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act.

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