Lamar Alexander: Wikis


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Lamar Alexander

Assumed office 
January 3, 2003
Serving with Bob Corker
Preceded by Fred Thompson

In office
March 22, 1991 – January 20, 1993
President George H. W. Bush
Preceded by Lauro Cavazos
Succeeded by Richard Riley

In office
January 16, 1979 – January 17, 1987
Lieutenant John S. Wilder
Preceded by Ray Blanton
Succeeded by Ned McWherter

Born July 3, 1940 (1940-07-03) (age 69)
Maryville, Tennessee
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Honey Alexander
Children 4
Residence Nashville, Tennessee
Alma mater Vanderbilt University (1962)
New York University School of Law (1965)
Occupation president of the University of Tennessee, and professor at Harvard Kennedy School
Profession Attorney
Religion Presbyterian

Andrew Lamar Alexander (born July 3, 1940) is the senior United States Senator from Tennessee and Conference Chair of the Republican Party. He was previously the 45th Governor of Tennessee from 1979 to 1987, U.S. Secretary of Education from 1991 to 1993 under President George H. W. Bush and candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1996 and 2000


Early and personal life

Alexander was born in Maryville, Tennessee, where he was raised, to Genevra Floreine (née Rankin) and Andrew Lamar Alexander.[1] In high school he was elected Governor of Tennessee Boys State. Alexander graduated with a B.A. from Vanderbilt University where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Chi Fraternity in 1962 and from the New York University School of Law in 1965. After graduating from law school, Alexander clerked for United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit judge John Minor Wisdom in New Orleans from 1965 to 1966.[2]

In 1969 Alexander married Honey, who grew up in Victoria, Texas.[3] They had met during a softball game for Senate staff members; he was then a staffer for Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee while she worked for Senator John Tower of Texas. Together they have four children: Drew, Leslee, Kathryn, and Will.

He is also a classical and country pianist. Alexander got to put these talents on display in April 2007 when he played piano on singer Patti Page's re-recording of her 1950 hit "Tennessee Waltz." He appeared on the record at the invitation of record executive Mike Curb. Alexander and Page then performed the song live at an April 4 fundraiser for his Senatorial re-election campaign in Nashville's Schermerhorn Symphony Center.[4]

He is a member of Sons of the Revolution.[5]

Political career

In 1967, Alexander worked as a legislative assistant for Senator Howard Baker. While a staffer, he was briefly roommates with future U.S. Senator Trent Lott. In 1969, he worked for Bryce Harlow, President Richard Nixon's executive assistant.[2] In 1970 he moved back to Tennessee, serving as campaign manager for Memphis dentist Winfield Dunn's successful gubernatorial bid.

Thanks to his successful tenure as Dunn's campaign manager, Alexander received the Republican nomination for governor of Tennessee in 1974. He faced Democrat Ray Blanton, a former congressman and unsuccessful 1972 Senate candidate. Blanton attacked Alexander for his service under Nixon, who had resigned in disgrace several months earlier. He also portrayed Alexander as being too distant from average Tennesseans, even though Alexander was the son of teachers. Blanton would win the election 56%-44%.

In 1974, TIME magazine named Alexander one of the 200 Faces of the Future.[6]

In 1977, Alexander once again worked in Baker's Washington office following Baker's election as Senate Minority Leader.

Governor of Tennessee

Even though the Tennessee State Constitution had been amended in early 1978 to allow a governor to succeed himself, Blanton chose not to seek re-election, due to a number of scandals. Alexander once again ran for governor, and made a name for himself by walking 1,000 miles (1,600 km) across the state wearing a red and black plaid shirt. He defeated Knoxville banker Jake Butcher in the November election.

In early 1979, a furor ensued over pardons made by Blanton.[7][8] Since the state constitution is somewhat vague on when a governor must be sworn in, several political leaders from both parties, including Lieutenant Governor John S. Wilder and State House Speaker Ned McWherter, arranged for Alexander to be sworn in three days earlier than the traditional inauguration day.[8] Wilder later called the move "impeachment Tennessee-style."

Alexander made history by becoming the first Tennessee governor reelected to a second 4-year term (after the 1978 amendment, see above) by defeating Knoxville mayor Randy Tyree in the 1982 election, carrying almost 70% of Knox County. Since that time, every Tennessee Governor has been elected to consecutive terms. During his second term, he served as chairman of the National Governors Association from 1985 to 1986. After opting out of the 1984 U.S. Senate contest for the open seat of retiring Majority Leader Howard Baker, Alexander was constitutionally ineligible for a third term and stepped down from the governorship in January 1987.

After governorship

Moving with his family to Australia for a time, he would soon return to Tennessee and became the president of the University of Tennessee (1988–1991), and United States Secretary of Education (1991–1993). As Education Secretary, he sparked controversy after he approved Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) to accredit schools despite an advisory panel that repeatedly recommended against it in 1991 and 1987.[9][10][11][12] In 1993, Steve Levicoff published a book-length critical discussion of TRACS and Alexander's decision in When the TRACS Stop Short.[13][14]

In 1987, he helped found Corporate Child Care Management, Inc. (now known as Bright Horizons Family Solutions Inc.), a company that – via a merger – is now the nation's largest provider of worksite day care. In his 2005 U.S. Senate financial disclosure report, he listed personal ownership of BFAM (Bright Horizons Family Solutions) stock valued (at that time) between $1 million and $5 million dollars.

He taught about the American character as a faculty member at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

He also made two unsuccessful runs for President of the United States, in the 1996 and 2000 election cycles. In 1996, he finished third in both the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire Primary and dropped out before the Super Tuesday primaries. After dropping out of the race, Alexander took an advisory role in the Dole/Kemp campaign.[15] His second candidacy, in which he traveled around the U.S. in a Ford Explorer, eschewing a campaign bus or plane, lasted less than six months, being announced March 9, 1999, and withdrawn August 16, 1999 (after a poor showing in the Ames Straw Poll), both times in Nashville.[16] An article in The New York Times during this period comments that Alexander's "bitter belief that party's nominating process is being short-circuited by big money and big media has become [his] consuming preoccupation," referring to the Republican Party.[17]

Senate career

Senator and Mrs. Alexander with the Presbyterian Chaplain of the 844th from Rhea County in 2005.

Despite vowing to never again return to elective office, he was nevertheless persuaded by the White House to run for the open seat of retiring Senator Fred Thompson in 2002. Seen as a moderate Republican by Tennessee standards, his candidacy was vigorously opposed by conservatives who supported Congressman Ed Bryant, who had become one of the House managers during the 1998 impeachment of President Bill Clinton. Alexander was better-funded and armed with more prominent endorsements, winning by a closer-than-expected margin over Bryant in the primary. Democrats had high hopes of recovering the seat with their candidate, Nashville Congressman Bob Clement, a member of a prominent political family. Alexander was successful in defeating Clement in the general election that year. With his election to the U.S. Senate, he became the first Tennessean to be popularly elected both governor and senator. At 62, Alexander also became the oldest elected freshman U.S. Senator from Tennessee since Democrat Lawrence D. Tyson in 1924.

Before the Iraq War began, Alexander supported sending troops to Iraq and expressed his agreement with President Bush that Iraq must be dealt with immediately.[18] A year after the war began, Alexander stated that the Iraq War had provided "lessons" to the nation, but went on to say that American troops should not be withdrawn, saying "It would be even worse if we left before the job was done."[19] In 2007, Alexander touted implementing the Iraq Study Group recommendations, noting that he believes Bush will be viewed as a Truman-esque figure if he implements the Group's recommendations.[20][21] Alexander has, however, opposed most efforts in the Senate to bring an end to the Iraq War or reduce the number of troops in Iraq, voting, for example, against an amendment to a bill that would have required that soldiers be given minimum periods of rest before being redeployed to Iraq.[22]

On June 25, 2009, much to the chagrin of conservatives and 2nd Amendment supporters, Lamar Alexander was one of 8 Republicans to cross the aisle and vote for confirmation of Harold Hongju Koh, a gun control advocate, as Legal Adviser to the State Department.[23]

Again breaking ranks with Republicans and conservatives in the Senate, on July 30, 2009 Alexander announced his support for the nomination of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.[24]

In 2007, a species of springtail, Cosberella lamaralexanderi, was named in his honor partially because of his support in the Senate for scientific research funding.

On July 15, 2009, Alexander voted against the health care reform bill in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.[25] Alexander stated that he opposed the bill because he says it will result in higher state taxes, an increased federal debt, government-run health care, and Medicare cuts, and instead supports a different approach to reform.[26]


Committee assignments

Republican leadership

In late 2006, Alexander announced that he had secured the requisite number of votes to become the Republican Party's Minority Whip in the Senate during the 110th Congress. Even though he was seen as the preferred choice of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Bush Administration, he lost the election to former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott by one vote (25-24).[27]

Alexander would get a second shot at entering his party's leadership a year later when Lott announced his intent to resign from the Senate by the end of 2007. Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, then Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, ran for Whip and was elected without opposition. With the Conference Chair vacant, Alexander announced that he would seek the position.[28] He would go on to defeat Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina by a margin of 31-16.[29]

2008 Re-election campaign

In April 2007, Alexander announced he would run for re-election to the Senate in 2008.[30]

Alexander was favored throughout the entire campaign, due to his long history in Tennessee politics and a disorganized Democratic opposition. His rivals were former state Democratic Party Chairman Bob Tuke, who won a heated primary, and Libertarian candidate Daniel T. Lewis.

Alexander won reelection in a landslide, taking 65 percent of the vote to Tuke's 32 percent. Alexander also carried all but one of Tennessee's 95 counties; he only lost in majority-black Haywood County in western Tennessee. He won the normally Democratic strongholds of Davidson and Shelby counties—home to Nashville and Memphis, respectively. Alexander also benefited from the coattails of John McCain's solid victory statewide in the Presidential race.

Electoral history

Tennessee U.S. Senate Election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Lamar Alexander 1,571,637 67.3 +13.0
Democratic Bob Tuke 762,779 32.6
Tennessee U.S. Senate Election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Lamar Alexander 888,223 54.3
Democratic Bob Clement 726,510 44.2
Tennessee Gubernatorial Election, 1982
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Lamar Alexander (Incumbent) 737,693 59.56 +3.72
Democratic Randy Tyree 500,937 40.44
Tennessee Gubernatorial Election, 1978
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Lamar Alexander 661,959 55.84
Democratic Jake Butcher 523,495 44.16
Tennessee Gubernatorial Election, 1974
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Ray Blanton 576,833 55.88
Republican Lamar Alexander 455,467 44.12

United States presidential election, 1996 (Republican primaries):[31]

Republican Senate Minority Whip[32]

  • Trent Lott (MS) - 25 (51.02%)
  • Lamar Alexander (TN) - 24 (48.98%)

Senate Republican Conference Chairman:[33]

  • Lamar Alexander (TN) - 31 (65.96%)
  • Richard Burr (NC) - 16 (34.04%)

See also


  1. ^ 1
  2. ^ a b Lamar Alexander (1991 - 1993): Secretary of Education, Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia.
  3. ^ Honey Alexander's Biography, U.S. Senate site
  4. ^ "Songbird, senator team up on "Waltz"". The Tennessean. 2007-04-03. Retrieved 2007-04-09.  
  5. ^ "Reports from State Societies". Drumbeat (Independence, Mo.: General Society Sons of the Revolution). Winter 2004. Retrieved 2010-01-10.  
  6. ^ 200 Faces for the Future - TIME
  7. ^ Tennessee Encyclopedia: Leonard Ray Blanton
  8. ^ a b Pardon Abuse: Deja Vu by David Boaz, Cato Institute website, March 7, 2001.
  9. ^ Scott Jaschik (September 4, 1991). "Rejecting Review Board’s Advice, Alexander Grants Federal Recognition to Christian Accrediting Body" (A40). The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2008-12-26.  
  10. ^ "Accrediting body angers secretary of education". Washington Times. November 7, 1991.,0EB0EF6AF5F54465.html. Retrieved 2008-12-26.  
  11. ^ "BATTLE LINES DRAWN ON A COLLEGE DIVERSITY DEBATE". Philadelphia Inquirer. October 20, 1991.,0EB2A28280FA2D5C.html. Retrieved 2008-12-26.  
  12. ^ Sandefur, Timothy (March 24, 2002). "Dinosaur TRACS: The Approaching Conflict between Establishment Clause Jurisprudence And College Accreditation Procedures". Nexus (law journal) from Chapman University School of Law. Retrieved 2006-11-04.  
  13. ^ Steve Levicoff, When the TRACS Stop Short: An Evaluation and Critique of the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, (Institute on Religion and Law, 1993)
  14. ^ Jaschik, Scott (June 16, 1995). "Christian Accrediting Group Faulted in Federal Review". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2007-05-04.  
  15. ^ "Reading, Writing, and Reform" (transcript of a news-program debate among Bob Dole, Lamar Alexander, and Albert Shanker), 22 Aug 1996
  16. ^ "Lamar Alexander"
  17. ^ "Alexander, After 6-Year Run, Is Short on Time and Money," Melinda Henneberger, 12 Aug 1999
  18. ^ On Alexander swing, Cheney demands Iraqi compliance, by Brad Schrade, The Tennessean, September 27, 2002
  19. ^ Alexander Cites Lessons Of Iraq, The Chattanoogan, February 19, 2004
  20. ^ Alexander Touts Iraq Study Group Findings, appearance on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, July 19, 2007
  21. ^ Alexander champions Iraq course, by Bartholomew Sullivan, The Commercial Appeal, September 9, 2007
  22. ^ U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote
  23. ^ Senate Roll Call Votes 111th Congress - 1st Session - Vote 213,, June 25, 2009
  24. ^ Floor Remarks of U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) -- Nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Senator Lamar Alexander, July 30, 2009
  25. ^ Committee: Health care overhaul a yes,, July 15, 2009
  26. ^ Lamar Alexander: 'It's Not Time', Nashville Scene, July 15, 2009
  27. ^ Babington, Charles (November 16, 2006). "Lott Rejoins Senate Leadership". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-12-21.  
  28. ^ "Alexander Announces Interest in Conference Chair". November 26, 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-12.  
  29. ^ Bresnahan, John (December 6, 2007). "Alexander Wins Senate GOP Conference Chairmanship". Retrieved 2008-01-12.  
  30. ^ "Alexander Running Again, Sets Fundraiser". The Chattanoogan. 2007-04-03. Retrieved 2007-04-06.  
  31. ^ Our Campaigns - US President - R Primaries Race - Jul 07, 1996
  32. ^ Our Campaigns - US Senate Assistant Minority Leader Race - Nov 15, 2006
  33. ^ Our Campaigns - US Senate Republican Conference Chairman Race - Dec 06, 2007

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Ray Blanton
Governor of Tennessee
1979 – 1987
Succeeded by
Ned McWherter
Preceded by
John W. Carlin
Chairman of the National Governors Association
1985 – 1986
Succeeded by
Bill Clinton
Preceded by
Lauro Cavazos
United States Secretary of Education
Served under: George H.W. Bush

1991 – 1993
Succeeded by
Richard Riley
United States Senate
Preceded by
Fred Thompson
United States Senator (Class 2) from Tennessee
2003 – present
Served alongside: Bill Frist, Bob Corker
Party political offices
Preceded by
Winfield Dunn
Republican Party nominee for Governor of Tennessee
1974, 1978, 1982
Succeeded by
Winfield Dunn
Preceded by
Fred Thompson
Republican Party nominee for United States Senator from Tennessee
(Class 2)

2002, 2008
Succeeded by
Current nominee
Preceded by
Jon Kyl
Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference
December 19, 2007 – present
United States order of precedence
Preceded by
Lindsey Graham
R-South Carolina
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
John Cornyn
Academic offices
Preceded by
Edward Boling
President of the University of Tennessee
1988 – 1991
Succeeded by
Joseph E. Johnson
Representatives to the 108th–111th United States Congresses from Tennessee
108th Senate: B. Frist | L. Alexander House: B. Gordon | J. Duncan, Jr. | J. Tanner | Z. Wamp | H. Ford, Jr. | W. Jenkins | J. Cooper | M. Blackburn | L. Davis
109th Senate: B. Frist | L. Alexander House: B. Gordon | J. Duncan, Jr. | J. Tanner | Z. Wamp | H. Ford, Jr. | W. Jenkins | J. Cooper | M. Blackburn | L. Davis
110th Senate: L. Alexander | B. Corker House: B. Gordon | J. Duncan, Jr. | J. Tanner | Z. Wamp | J. Cooper | M. Blackburn | L. Davis | S. Cohen | D. Davis
111th Senate: L. Alexander | B. Corker House: B. Gordon | J. Duncan, Jr. | J. Tanner | Z. Wamp | J. Cooper | M. Blackburn | L. Davis | S. Cohen | P. Roe


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