Republican shake-ups in Senate leadership
September 20th, 2011
10:06 AM ET
11 years ago

Republican shake-ups in Senate leadership

Washington (CNN) - Sen. Lamar Alexander will leave his post as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference in January. The Tennessee Republican told his Senate colleagues in an email that he was stepping down from his post to pursue other goals within the Senate.

"Stepping down from leadership will liberate me to spend more time working for results on the issues I care most about," Alexander wrote. "I want to do more to make the Senate a more effective institution so that it can deal better with serious issues."

The former Republican presidential candidate and two-term senator will run for reelection in 2014.

Speaking to reporters off the Senate floor Tuesday, South Dakota Sen. John Thune said he would be running for Alexander's post once it becomes vacant. Thune also said he wasn't ruling out a run for Republican whip, the number two spot for Republicans in the Senate, which will also be vacant when Arizona Sen. John Kyl retires in 2012. Texas Sen. John Cornyn has also said he is running for that post.

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso also announced Tuesday he was running for the Senate Republican Conference chairmanship.

Alexander actually announced last year that he would not run for conference chair again, but he did say he would run for GOP whip, the number two job currently held by Kyl. Alexander's announcement today is that he is departing the conference chair position about one year early and that he won't run for whip in the next Congress.

GOP sources say privately that Alexander likely chose to leave the GOP leadership because some conservative members of his party think he's too moderate and would have struggled to win the whip race against Cornyn.

Speaking to reporters after his announcement, Alexander said he had made his decision several months ago because he feels he can work more effectively across the aisle on the big issues of the day if he is outside of the leadership.

Alexander was asked if that was an indictment of his own leadership.

"No, it's just a recognition that in the United States Senate if you want to achieve a result you got to have 60 votes and that means you have to have 60 senators who have good credentials in their own caucus and are willing to work toward a result. I'd like to be one of those senators," he said.

Filed under: Lamar Alexander • Senate
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    He will then have more time to count the money he gets from big oil, big corporations, foreign corporations, big polluters, and big banks.

    September 20, 2011 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  2. As GM goes, so goes the country...Unions/Democrats killed GM, now they are killing the country

    The Senate under the Democrats and Harry Reid is the most useless institution in government. It is where all bills go to die. When the Republicans take control of it in 2012 it'll be functional once more.

    September 20, 2011 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  3. The Real Tom Paine

    Possibly running against McConnell? Alexander's explanation is vague and open-ended, so I think McConnell needs to be looking over his shoulder.

    September 20, 2011 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

    "I want to do more to make the Senate a more effective institution so that it can deal better with serious issues."

    And I will respect his willingness to deal with the serious issues by continuing to follow the serious issues and his participation in tackling the serious issues.

    September 20, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  5. vic , nashville ,tn

    Tea Party pressure, Here in Tennessee tea party wants their candidates to win in 2012

    Local GOP can’t stand tea party heat

    September 20, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  6. Martha in CF

    He's are a republican. Do they care about anything?

    September 20, 2011 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  7. d

    He is probably stepping down because he can not be effective due to the tp gop agenda...maybe he does not want to go into the history books as leader in senate that helped take our country down!

    September 20, 2011 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  8. Rudy NYC

    What other goals within the Senare are out there? If he's talking about moving upward, then Sen. McConnell is in his way.

    September 20, 2011 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  9. thomas

    I hear the lobby calling $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ !

    September 20, 2011 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  10. MTATL67

    That may explain the $260,000 ear-mark for the squirrel sanctuary in Tennessee on the FAA budget. McConnell's state of Kentucky got $200,000 for a Chevrolet Corvette Simulator. Yes, people we the American public have just paid for rodents and a video game and the GOP is suppose to fix the wasteful spending, yeah right.

    September 20, 2011 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  11. Martha in CF

    AS GM GOES-–
    The Redumblicans are the ones who got us into this mess!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 20, 2011 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  12. pmk1953

    What he really means is, "I'm too visible here in my current position. So, I need to step down so I can accept bribes, (oops, campaign contributions) easier.

    September 20, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |