Lamar Alexander announces U.S. Senatorial candidacy in Tri-Cities

By Megan R. Harrell

Star Staff

   Tennessee's former governor and U.S. Secretary of Education has made a sudden return to politics. Lamar Alexander made the decision to run for U.S. Senate on Friday after he learned of Sen. Fred Thompson's decision to leave the office. He spoke to the media and supporters Tuesday morning at Tri-Cities Aviation in his second day of campaigning.
   "This is an unexpected course of action for me. I've been happy as a private citizen, represented by the country's two best senators, and I regret Fred Thompson's decision to step down but I respect it," Alexander said.
   Alexander looks to work on many of the same issues he addressed in his previous political career. He is focusing mainly on restoring old-fashioned values during one of America's most patriotic times. "As I look at our country today, those who have a chance to serve ought to do it and this seemed to me to be an unexpected chance for me uniquely to serve six years in the U.S. Senate. I welcome that opportunity and I feel like I can make more of a contribution there about the things I care about," Alexander said. "As Senator I will do whatever I can to try to help our country win this war, but I will work just as hard at home fixing schools, strengthening families and communities and helping those who are hurting to get a better job."
   Alexander was the governor of Tennessee from 1979-1987, president of the University of Tennessee from 1988-1991, and the U.S. Education Secretary from 1991-1993. More recently, Alexander was the Republican nomination for president in 1996 and 2000.
   Since leaving public office Alexander has been active as a visiting professor at Harvard's School of Government. He is active as the chairman of Co-nect, an education company in Boston, and of Coca-Cola's national Education Advisory Committee.
   Alexander stated that Sen. Thompson's retirement and the events of Sept. 11 were the determining factors that brought him back to the political scene. "Time to bring out the best in us, our greatest opportunity is in the future to try to capture as much as possible the best of us what has poured out since Sept. 11 and make it a permanent part of our culture. To take the charity, the leadership and the selflessness and try to find some way to make that more lasting," Alexander said. "I know better than to try to replace Fred Thompson. I do not know anyone who could do that, but I am going to do my best starting today from scratch to persuade the people of Upper East Tennessee, and the entire state that I am the right person to succeed him."
   Alexander stated that he was glad to have a reason to return to Eastern Tennessee and the campaign has given him that opportunity. He will be returning to the Tri-Cities on Saturday at 10 a.m. in Kingsport for a meeting of the Republican Women.