Andrew Lamar Alexander (born July 3, 1940) is the senior United States Senator from Tennessee and a member of the Republican Party. He was previously the 45th Governor of Tennessee from 1979 to 1987, U.S. Secretary of Education from 1991 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush and candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1996 and 2000.
In 1969 Alexander married Leslee "Honey" Buhler, who grew up in Victoria, Texas. They had met during a softball game for Senate staff members; he was then a staffer for Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee while she worked for Senator John Tower of Texas. Together they have four children: Drew, Leslee, Kathryn, and Will.
He is also a classical and country pianist. Alexander got to put these talents on display in April 2007 when he played piano on singer Patti Page's re-recording of her 1950 hit "Tennessee Waltz." He appeared on the record, due out for release in the summer of 2007, at the invitation of record executive Mike Curb. Alexander and Page then performed the song live at an April 4 fundraiser for his Senatorial re-election campaign in Nashville's Schermerhorn Symphony Center..
In 1967, Alexander worked as a legislative assistant for Senator Howard Baker. While a staffer, he was briefly roommates with future U.S. Senator Trent Lott. In 1969, he worked for Bryce Harlow, President Nixon's executive assistant. In 1970 he moved back to Tennessee, serving as campaign manager for Memphis dentist Winfield Dunn's successful gubernatorial bid.
Thanks to his successful tenure as Dunn's campaign manager, Alexander received the Republican nomination for governor of Tennessee in 1974. He faced Democrat Ray Blanton, a former congressman and unsuccessful 1972 Senate candidate. Blanton attacked Alexander for his service under Nixon, who had resigned in disgrace several months earlier. He also portrayed Alexander as being too distant from average Tennesseans, even though Alexander was the son of teachers. Blanton would win the election 56%-44%.
In 1974 TIME magazine named Alexander one of the 200 Faces of the Future.
Even though the Tennessee State Constitution had been amended in early 1978 to allow a governor to succeed himself, Blanton chose not to seek re-election, due to a number of scandals. Alexander once again ran for governor, and made a name for himself by walking across the state wearing a red and black plaid shirt. He defeated Knoxville banker Jake Butcher in the November election.
In early 1979, a furor ensued over pardons made by Blanton that appeared to be made out of pure politics; some of them smacked of bribery. Since the state constitution is somewhat vague on when a governor must be sworn in, several political leaders from both parties, including Lieutenant Governor John S. Wilder and State House Speaker Ned McWherter, arranged for Alexander to be sworn in three days earlier than the traditional inauguration day. Wilder later called the move "impeachment Tennessee-style." Soon after being sworn in, Alexander ordered the state Highway Patrol to seize control of the state capitol to prevent any maneuvers by Blanton to regain office.
Alexander made history by becoming the first Tennessee governor reelected to a second 4-year term by defeating Knoxville mayor Randy Tyree in the 1982 election, carrying almost 70% of Knox County. Since that time, every Tennessee Governor has been elected to consecutive terms. During his second term, he served as chairman of the National Governors Association from 1985 to 1986. After opting out of the 1984 U.S. Senate contest for the open seat of retiring Majority Leader Howard Baker, Alexander was constitutionally ineligible for a third term and stepped down from the governorship in January 1987.
In 1987, he helped found Corporate Child Care Management, Inc. (now known as Bright Horizons Family Solutions Inc.), a company that via a merger is now the nation's largest provider of worksite day care. In his 2005 U.S. Senate financial disclosure report, he listed personal ownership of BFAM (Bright Horizons Family Solutions) stock valued (at that time) between $1 million and $5 million dollars.
He also made two unsuccessful runs for President of the United States, in the 1996 and 2000 election cycles. In 1996, he finished third in both the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire Primary and dropped out before the Super Tuesday primaries. After dropping out of the race, Alexander took an advisory role in the Dole/Kemp campaign. His second candidacy, in which he traveled around the U.S. in a Ford Explorer, eschewing a campaign bus or plane, lasted less than six months, being announced March 9, 1999, and withdrawn August 16, 1999 (after a poor showing in the Ames Straw Poll), both times in Nashville. An article in The New York Times during this period comments that Alexander's "bitter belief that party's nominating process is being short-circuited by big money and big media has become [his] consuming preoccupation," referring to the Republican Party.
Before the Iraq War began, Alexander supported sending troops to Iraq and expressed his agreement with President Bush that Iraq must be dealt with immediately. A year after the war began, Alexander stated that the Iraq War had provided "lessons" to the nation, but went on to say that American troops should not be withdrawn, saying "It would be even worse if we left before the job was done. In 2007, Alexander touted implementing the Iraq Study Group recommendations, noting that he believes Bush will be viewed as a Truman-esque figure if he implements the Group's recommendations. Alexander has, however, opposed most efforts in the Senate to bring an end to the Iraq War or reduce the number of troops in Iraq, voting, for example, against an amendment to a bill that would have required that soldiers be given minimum periods of rest before being redeployed to Iraq.
In 2007, a species of springtail, Cosberella lamaralexanderi, was named in his honor partially because of his support in the Senate for scientic research funding.
Alexander would get a second shot at entering his party's leadership a year later when Lott announced his intent to resign from the Senate by the end of 2007. Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, then Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, ran for Whip and was elected without opposition. With the Conference Chair vacant, Alexander announced that he would seek the position. He would go on to defeat Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina by a margin of 31-16.
Alexander has been favored throughout the entire campaign, due to his long history in Tennessee politics and a disorganized Democratic opposition. His rivals will be former state Democratic Party Chairman Bob Tuke, who won a heated primary, as well as Libertarian candidate Daniel T. Lewis. A Rasmussen poll in late September, the only one currently showing at fivethirtyeight.com, gave Alexander a 24-point lead.
United States presidential election, 1996 (Republican primaries):
Republican Senate Minority Whip
Senate Republican Conference Chairman: