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  Lamar Alexander quitting leadership post in Senate
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Last EditedIndyGeorgia  Sep 20, 2011 11:57am
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AuthorManu Raju
News DateTuesday, September 20, 2011 05:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionSen. Lamar Alexander will resign from his influential Republican leadership post in January, a stunning decision by the former two-time presidential candidate who has played a central role shaping GOP strategy during President Barack Obama’s time in office.

In a letter sent Tuesday morning to Republican senators — first reported by POLITICO — Alexander said he will cut short his leadership term by quitting as Republican Conference chairman, the No. 3 job, and abandoning his hopes to ascend to the powerful Senate Republican whip job in the next Congress.

Alexander says the decision was rooted in his desire to foster consensus in the gridlocked Senate, a role he felt constrained playing while spearheading the partisan Senate GOP messaging machine.

“Stepping down from leadership will liberate me to spend more time working for results on the issues I care most about,” he said in the letter. “I want to do more to make the Senate a more effective institution so that it can deal better with serious issues. There are different ways to provide leadership within the Senate. After nine years here, this is how I believe I can now make my greatest contribution. For these same reasons, I do not plan to seek a leadership position in the next Congress.”

Alexander — the 71-year-old former Tennessee governor and U.S. education secretary under President George H.W. Bush who unsuccessfully sought his party’s presidential nomination in 1996 and 2000 by portraying himself as a populist crusader — will still serve in the Senate and plans to run for reelection for a third term in 2014.

Alexander has already informed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of his decision but kept the news closely guarded until he informed his colleagues Tuesday morning.

By deciding to return to the rank and file, Alexander has reordered the Republican pecking order in the Senate.
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