Haslam Denies Scheming with Lamar on Senate Future

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When Lamar Alexander said he’s planning to run for the Senate again in 2014, he did it to head off the inevitable wild scramble of would-be successors that would have been triggered by any equivocation on his part about his future. As Ken Whitehouse pointed out in The City Paper:

Absent that statement, at least three Republican exploratory committees would appear next week. And Democrats would have 36 months to find a whisper of some sort of viable candidate. Alexander shut all that down, for now.

But while freezing Blackburn, Wamp, Ramsey, et al, Alexander managed to touch off wild speculation just the same. According to the hypothesis making the rounds of political junkies, he would run again—not to serve another Senate term—but only to resign after he wins. That way, he essentially could choose his own successor. The senator is 71, after all. If he runs again and wins, he’d be nearly 80 by the time his third term ended. Surely, he doesn’t want to spend his 70s wasting away in Washington.

The speculation is that Alexander would resign and let Gov. Bill Haslam—the son of one of Alexander’s biggest financial supporters—appoint himself to fill the unexpired term. That would set up Haslam to run as the nearly unbeatable incumbent in the next general election and keep the seat out of the hands of any annoying right-wing kooks.

Haslam thinks all this is pretty funny, it turns out. We asked him about it at his media avail yesterday and, as he chortled, here is what he said:

First of all, I hope Lamar does run again and I hope he serves his full six years. I’m biased but I think he’s a terrific senator. Second, you know, I have no intention at all to do that, I really don’t, mainly because I love the job I have and while being senator is really important, I love the fit of being governor, so I have zero anticipation of doing that.

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