Andrew Lamar Alexander (born July 3, 1940) is the senior United States Senator from Tennessee and Conference Chair of the Republican Party. He was previously the 45th Governor of Tennessee from 1979 to 1987, United States Secretary of Education from 1991 to 1993 under President George H. W. Bush and candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1996 and 2000.
Alexander was born in Maryville, Tennessee, where he was raised, to Genevra Floreine (née Rankin) and Andrew Lamar Alexander. In high school he was elected Governor of Tennessee Boys State. Alexander graduated with a B.A.
from Vanderbilt University where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Chi Fraternity in 1962 and from the New York University School of Law in 1965. After graduating from law school, Alexander clerked for United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit judge John Minor Wisdom in New Orleans from 1965 to 1966. In 1969 Alexander married Honey Buhler, who grew up in Victoria, Texas, and graduated from Smith College of Massachusetts. 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 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. He is a member of Sons of the Revolution.
Governor of Tennessee
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 1,000 miles (1,600 km) 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.
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." Alexander made history by becoming the first Tennessee governor reelected to a second 4-year term (after the 1978 amendment, see above) 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.
2008 Re-election campaign
In April 2007, Alexander announced he would run for re-election to the Senate in 2008. Alexander was favored throughout the entire campaign, due to his long history in Tennessee politics and a disorganized Democratic opposition. His rivals were former state Democratic Party Chairman Bob Tuke, who won a heated primary, and Libertarian candidate Daniel T. Lewis. Alexander won reelection in a landslide, taking 65 percent of the vote to Tuke's 32 percent.
Alexander also carried all but one of Tennessee's 95 counties; he lost only in majority-black Haywood County in western Tennessee. He won the normally Democratic strongholds of Davidson and Shelby counties—home to Nashville and Memphis, respectively. Alexander also benefited from the coattails of John McCain's solid victory statewide in the Presidential race.
May 30th, 2011