|Senior U.S. Senator from Tennessee|
From: January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2021
|Former Governor of Tennessee|
From: January 16, 1979 – January 17, 1987
Lamar Alexander was born in Maryville, the son of a kindergarten teacher and an elementary school principal. He is a seventh generation Tennessean. Alexander graduated with a B.A. from Vanderbilt University where he was a member of 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. He later worked as a staffer for Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee. Alexander is a classical and country pianist and the author of seven books.
Governor of Tennessee
In 1970, Alexander served as the 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 won the election with 56% of the vote. Due to a number of scandals in his administration, Governor Blanton decided not to run for re-election in 1978. Lamar Alexander ran for governor and won the general election, defeating Democrat nominee Jake Butcher by eleven percentage points. Once elected, he helped Tennessee become the third largest auto producer and the first state to pay teachers more for teaching well. He started Tennessee's Governor's Schools for outstanding students. Alexander made history by becoming the first person reelected to a second 4-year term by defeating Knoxville mayor Randy Tyree in the 1982 election, carrying almost 70% of Knox County. During his second term, he served as chairman of the National Governors Association from 1985 to 1986. After his governorship, Alexander moved to Australia with his family 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 under President George H.W. Bush (1991-1993).
Alexander 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 Bob Dole/Jack Kemp campaign. 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.
United States SenateFred Thompson. Seen as a moderate Republican by Tennessee standards, his candidacy for the GOP nomination was challenged by conservatives who supported Congressman Ed Bryant. However, Alexander went on to win the Republican primary and the general election. Making him the only Tennessean ever to be popularly elected both governor and United States Senator. Alexander was easily reelected in 2008 with 67% of the vote. Senator Alexander is the third ranking Republican on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. He serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee responsible for overseeing the Tennessee Valley Authority as well as the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and is a member of the Senate Rules committee. In the 110th Congress, Alexander unsuccessfully ran for Senate Minority Whip, losing by one vote to Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi.
Lamar Alexander's voting record in the U.S. Senate is generally conservative. Since 2003, he has voted with his Republican colleagues 81% of the time. Alexander voted against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. "A number of things have been said about the so-called stimulus package, which I feel, many of us feel, is more of a spending bill than a stimulus bill. But there is no doubt about the fact that it increases our national debt."  Alexander has also expressed concerns over Democrat's government run health care initiatives. "This is the wrong first step on health care reform because it sets the stage for higher state taxes, more federal debt, government-run health care and Medicare cuts—and still leaves many Americans uninsured."  However, he broke with his party after voting to confirm Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In October 2009 Alexander stated that he sees similarities between the Obama administration and Richard Nixon, in that the White House is creating an "enemies list" that includes the Fox News Channel, the health insurance industry, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
- Official Site
- Alexander On the Issues
- Voting record
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress