Sen. Lamar Alexander, the No. 3 Senate Republican leader, said he will step down from his leadership post in January, citing the need to focus more on “working for results on the issues I care most about.”
Alexander, 71, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference for four years, said he will remain in the Senate and run for re-election in 2014.
“I want to do more to make the Senate a more effective institution so that it can deal better with serious issues,” Alexander said in a letter sent to all Senate Republicans today. “There are different ways to provide leadership within the Senate. After nine years here, this is how I believe I can now make my greatest contribution.”
The decision by Alexander, a former governor of Tennessee who ran unsuccessfully for his party’s presidential nomination in 1996 and 2000, will shake up the Senate Republican leadership. The No. 2 Republican leader in the chamber, Jon Kyl of Arizona, will retire in January, and Alexander was seen as his likely successor.
Republicans now have 47 of the Senate’s 100 seats and are working to take control of the chamber in next year’s elections.
The next Republican leader in line behind Kyl and Alexander is John Thune of South Dakota, chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee. Immediately behind him is John Barrasso of Wyoming, vice chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.
Alexander has been pivotal in helping to shape communications strategy for the Republican leadership team led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. He also has helped negotiate across the aisle, working with Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York earlier this year on a compromise over conflicts about Republicans’ frequent use of the filibuster, a delaying tactic used to block President Barack Obama’s initiatives and nominees.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, today praised Alexander on the Senate floor as a “unique person in this body.”
“I have found Lamar Alexander to be one of the most thoughtful people I’ve ever served with in the Senate,” Reid said.
--Editors: Robin Meszoly, Mark McQuillan.
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