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In Surprise, Longtime Senator Is Retiring

Republican Lamar Alexander of Tennessee won't run in 2020
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 17, 2018 1:59 PM CST
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., speaks at the unveiling of the official portrait of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Monday, Dec. 17, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. Haslam is seen as a contender to run for Alexander's...   (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

(Newser) – Three terms is enough for Lamar Alexander. The 78-year-old Republican senator from Tennessee said Monday that he will run not for re-election in 2020. Both Politico and the Tennessean see it as a surprising move, though the latter points out that Alexander would be 86 at the end of another term. Plus, he likely would have faced a tough primary fight from a more conservative challenger. Alexander is chair of the powerful Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and he is known for his ability to work across the aisle with Democrats. On that note, Politico calls his decision a "body blow" to the chamber.

“He is a problem solver at a time when too many people in politics want to talk about a problem rather than solve a problem," said fellow Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri. In his statement, Alexander said he is "deeply grateful" to Tennesseans who first put him in the Senate in 2003 and in the governor's office before that. "Now it is time for someone else to have that privilege." Among early names being floated: Gov. Bill Haslam, Rep. Mark Green, and Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd, who owns Invisible Fence through his Radio Systems Corporation. (Read more Lamar Alexander stories.)

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