Tennessee senator bails after GOP got thrashed in 2018 midterms


Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced he will not seek re-election in 2020.

Republican Lamar Alexander, the senior senator from Tennessee, announced he will not seek re-election after finishing out his third term — an early sign of weakness for Senate Republicans in 2020.

Alexander is the first Republican senator up for re-election in 2020 to make such an announcement. Two Republican House members have already announced they will not seek re-election in 2020.

Alexander's announcement comes just weeks after Democrats won resounding midterm election victories that spell trouble for Trump and Republicans.

Republicans had to fight hard to hold the other Tennessee Senate seat after Sen. Bob Corker decided not to seek another term. With Alexander leaving in 2020, and Trump back on the ballot, Republicans will face yet another uphill battle to retain control of the seat — especially if the far-right Club for Growth gets its wish for Rep.-elect Mark Green, an anti-science bigot, to fill Alexander's seat.

But despite Alexander's reputation as a bipartisan dealmaker, he is no moderate himself. In fact, Alexander has supported Trump's toxic, unpopular agenda more than 93 percent of the time.

A loyal partisan in an increasingly polarized Congress, Alexander backed all of Trump's most controversial positions and nominees.

That included voting to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court despite multiple serious allegations of sexual misconduct, and despite a flood of objections from law professors who said Kavanaugh lacked the judicial temperament to serve on the highest court in the land. With Alexander's help, Kavanaugh joined Clarence Thomas as the second GOP-nominated Supreme Court justice to be confirmed despite being an alleged sexual predator.

As head of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Alexander played a key role in Republican efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

He repeatedly voted for Republican efforts to eliminate protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions, despite knowing it would likely increase health care costs for millions.

In light of a Texas judge's recent ruling that the entire ACA is unconstitutional, Alexander's role at the head of HELP comes even more acutely into focus. For the next two years, any conversation about the future of the American health care system will likely involve his committee.

In addition, Alexander voted for the GOP tax scam, which handed out billions of dollars to Wall Street CEOs while leaving families and regular Americans out in the cold.

The 2020 election is still two years away. And, unfortunately, Alexander is likely to spend those two years continuing to be a lapdog to the Trump agenda and refusing to be an independent voice for the people of Tennessee.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.