Political constituents react
  
Staff and Wire Reports


   Many of Sen. Fred Thompson's constituents were surprised to learn that he would not seek re-election to the U.S. Senate. Most expressed understanding and compassion. Others perceived the news as a golden opportunity to further their political careers.
   Following are reactions to Sen. Thompson's announcement:

   "I had dinner with Fred this past week and told him how pleased I was to learn that he was seeking re-election. Fred gave no indication at that time he was about to change his mind. What I will miss most about Fred is the excellent relationship with state legislators. At the national level, Fred was a leader on many issues, such as relations with China, trade, investigations by the Senate Judiciary Committee and Campaign Finance Reform. The nation and Tennessee are going to miss his leadership." -- State Sen. Rusty Crowe

   "When you lose someone in your family through an untimely death, it makes you analyze your priorities. I can understand Sen. Thompson's personal loss of a family member. My family experienced the loss of our 2-year old daughter, who died of pneumonia in 1962. We are still trying to recover from that, even today. I can understand why Sen. Thompson's heart is not into going back to Washington. He has been a great United States senator and I am very proud of him. I hope that he may consider some public life here in Tennessee. Sen. Thompson and his staff have always been responsive when I contacted them on behalf of constituents. Not only has he been a great legislator, but he has been a constituent-oriented person. He will be missed. I am confident that all Tennesseans will miss him. I certainly will." -- State Rep. Ralph Cole

   "Sen. Fred Thompson has served the people of Tennessee with honor, distinction, and class. He has worked tirelessly for Tennessee's interests, as well as for the national interest. While I will miss Fred's service in the Senate, I wish him all the best and will always call him a friend." -- President George Bush

   "On behalf of all Tennesseans, I'd like to Thank Sen. Thompson for his dedicated service to this state and nation. He has been a champion of Tennessee values in Washington, and his presence will be greatly missed. He is not only a great senator, but he has been a very good friend. I have known Fred for 35 years and I appreciate his friendship. Our hearts and prayers have been with him and will continue to be with him through this tough decision." -- Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist

   "The Senate is losing a powerful voice, especially in national security affairs. Fred Thompson is a wonderful representative of the people of Tennessee. I will seriously consider being a candidate to succeed him and will make a prompt decision." -- Lamar Alexander, former Tennessee governor

   "Fred provides tremendous service to the people of Tennessee and has been a key player in the most challenging issues in Washington. Tennesseans have been blessed to have Fred Thompson as our Senator, and I respect his decision. I look forward to working side by side with Fred in the United States senate over the remainder of this Congress, for the good of Tennesseans and all Americans. Fred will continue to serve this country in exciting and productive ways after his days in the Senate. It is a privilege and honor to serve with him." -- U.S. Sen. Bill Frist

   "I am saddened to hear that Sen. Thompson will not run for re-election. He has been a strong and effective senator for all Tennesseans. The landslide victories in 1994 and 1996 indicated the substantial statewide support he enjoyed and I am confident he would have enjoyed a similar result in November had he chose to stand for re-election. Sen. Thompson has served Tennessee with honor and distinction and his contributions will be noted for many years to come. I have enjoyed having the privilege to serve with the Senate since 1997. I look forward to working with him on projects of importance to Tennessee for the remainder of the year, and I wish him the best in his future endeavors." -- Congressman William Jenkins

   "I think some family circumstances over the last couple of months probably had a lot to do with him rethinking things." -- Tony Thompson, the senator's son and a Nashville lobbyist

   "All of us understand the personal reasons for which Sen. Thompson would make this decision and sympathize with the Thompson family in the loss of their daughter." -- Congressman John Tanner

   "As Tennesseans consider who will fill Sen. Thompson's shoes, I intend to have a conversation on the issues with all Tennesseans, starting in my own congressional district." -- Congressman Harold Ford Jr.

   "It is my intention to give the fullest consideration to running for his Senate seat. I will have an announcement at the appropriate time." -- Congressman Ed Bryant

   "We need the state to have the best representation possible in its next senator. We are in uncertain times. We are involved in an international war against terrorism and at the same time we are fighting a war here at home with respect to the economy and joblessness. The next senator must share the values of hard working Tennesseans to help fulfill our common goal of a better America and a better Tennessee." -- Congressman Bob Clement