Tags: 2020 Elections | bill haslam | lamar alexander | tennessee | senator | governor

Tenn. Gov. Haslam Looms Large as Sen. Alexander's Successor

tennessee republican governor bill haslam poses to the left of a portrait painted of himself
Gov. Bill Haslam, R-Tenn. (Mark Humphrey/AP)

Monday, 17 December 2018 05:47 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Minutes after Monday's announcement veteran Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., will not seek re-election in 2020, all political eyes in the Volunteer State were on Republican Gov. Bill Haslam as heir apparent to the three-term senator.

Now completing his second term as governor, Haslam is inarguably Tennessee's most powerful Republican. A real-life billionaire (Forbes Magazine reported in 2015 his net worth was $2 billion), Haslam, 60, is considerd a successful chief executive. He has overseen $50 billion in tax cuts in 2012, signed a photo ID law for voting, is strongly pro-life, and a member of the National Rifle Association.

But in the language of Tennessee Republicans, Haslam is considered an "establishment" Republican who stands in contrast to "movement conservatives" symbolized by the state's Republican Sen.-elect Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. While Blackburn embraces cultural conservatism with passion, for example, Haslam — pro-life and pro-traditional marriage — does not actively pursue either cause as an advocate.

Many of the "movement" conservatives would love Rep.-elect Mark Green, R-Tenn., to seek the Senate nomination. Nominated to be President Donald Trump's secretary of the Army, Green was eventually forced to withdraw his nomination after facing public criticism for comments he made about gays, lesbians, and Muslims. But to launch a Senate race before even being sworn into the House is considered, as one Tennessee Republican told us, is "a bridge too far, even for a bright guy like Mark."

Another intriguing possibility is Bill Hagerty, U.S. ambassador to Japan and a close ally of President Trump. Should the president back him, Hagerty would be a formidable candidate — even against Haslam.

Democrats placed all their chips on former Gov. Phil Bredessen in the Senate race this year, and he was beaten by Blackburn. Now there is no formidable Democrat mentioned for the Senate in 2020.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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All political eyes in the Volunteer State are on Republican Gov. Bill Haslam as heir apparent to three-term Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who will not seek re-election in 2020, Newsmax's John Gizzi reported Monday.
bill haslam, lamar alexander, tennessee, senator, governor
Monday, 17 December 2018 05:47 PM
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