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Tennessee Senators

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Tennessee Senators

My first encounter with any key political figure came when I was 9 years old. My family was poor. My father was a coal miner and my mother worked in a shirt factory. The coalmines in eastern Tennessee where my father worked were under pressure from the state government to shut down. It was claimed that the mines were responsible for allowing sulfur into local drinking water. The underground water tables were tested and it was determined that the drinking water was not contaminated due to the mining but from other underground streams that did not tie into the coal mining operation. But it was not enough to sway the intentions of then Governor Al Gore.

So what is a poor community facing extinction due to the loss of jobs supposed to do? We went to the state capitol to protest. News cameras were quick to find our protesting coal miner mob. I'm sure we stood out from the entire well-to-do crowd in the uppity section of Nashville. After all, I was wearing clothes that my mother had made for me. Due to the ruckus and publicity that we were created, we finally had gotten the opportunity that we had been waiting for. Al Gore came out onto the steps of the capitol building. The crowd of about thirty coalminers quieted and gathered to listen to our state Governor's comments. In the most insincere manner and uncaring way, Mr. Gore informed us to go home, go away, and there was nothing the he could do for us. He may never know how much effect that this had on the rest of my childhood. Once Mr. Gore was elected to the senate, the coalmines shut down. Now over twenty years have passed and I still pay close attention to key political figures from my home state. So do the folks that still have sulfur in their drinking water. Al Gore went on to become vice president


for Bill Clinton. He failed to win election to become president. He even failed to carry his home state in the election.

The currents senators from Tennessee are Lamar Alexander and Bill Frist. Each are republicans.

Lamar Alexander

Lamar Alexander is from Maryville, Tennessee. He is a classical and country pianist and the author of seven books, including Six Months Off, the story of his family's life in Australia after he was governor. He is the son of a kindergarten teacher and an elementary school principal. He is the only Tennessean ever to be popularly elected both governor and United States Senator. He chairs the Senate Education and Early Childhood Development Subcommittee, the Senate Energy Subcommittee as well as the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Caucus. (

In his campaign for governor, Lamar Alexander walked 1,000 miles across Tennessee in his now famous red and black plaid shirt. Once elected, he helped Tennessee become the third largest auto producer. In private life, he helped found a company that is now the nation's largest provider of worksite day care known as Corporate Childcare Inc. The company has been in Inc. Magazine as the one of the fastest growing businesses for the past three years. (

Senator Alexander is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and worked as a law review editor at New York University. At New York University, he roomed with now National Football League commissioner Paul Tagliabue. He worked for then U.S. Senator Howard Baker as a legislative assistant and worked for late President Richard Nixon as a counselor. Alexander also served as president at the University of Tennessee. (


In 1996, he ran for the Republican Presidential nomination. He pushed the image of the common man approach by wearing red flannel shirts. His campaign signs simply read "Lamar" with a red background. He wanted Congress to revert to an earlier time of citizen-legislators where they would only be in session for half of a year. One campaign slogan was "Cut their pay and send them home!" His campaign resulted in not winning any primaries largely in part to Senator Dole's superior organizational strength. Some said that the Democrats considered Alexander the most formidable of the GOP group and were relieved when Dole received the nomination. Alexander ran for president again in the year 2000. This time he ran a more conventional effort, dressed in business suits and without the part-time Congress issue. However he met with even less success and withdrew before the first caucuses and primaries ever took place. George Bush was nominated the Republican representative. In 2002, Alexander ran for the senate seat to be left open by retiring Senator Fred Thompson and won. (

Senator Alexander serves on many committees including: the committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, the committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the Forgien Relations Committee, committee on the Budget, and the special committee on Aging. According to his statements on, he is committed to three primary responsibilities: how to deal with terrorism, keep jobs in a more competitive world market place, and preserve our common culture as Americans. He is also dedicated to better schools and cleaner air. (

But to be expected there are many issues that are controversial, first of which would be the as the president at the University of Tennessee. He was appointed the job


that makes over $150,000 by many of the trustees that he appointed while he was governor. Second would be the Corporate Childcare Inc. that he helped found. For starters the company was founded in 1986. Mr. Alexander invested $5000 into the company in 1987. Jack Massey, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, invested over $2 million dollars into the project. This was the year in which he took six months off in Australia to write a book. The controversy is that his $5000 dollar investment is now worth millions. Next would be the issue of working at Howard Baker's law firm while running for president. Howard Baker's law firm paid him nearly $400,000 in 1994, and $295,000 in 1995 for working "at counsel." ( Nonetheless, Senator Alexander is scheduled to be succeeded by and incumbent in year 2009.

Senator Bill Frist

First elected to the U.S. Senate on November 8, 1994, Dr. Frist was the only challenger to defeat a full-term incumbent in 1994 and the first practicing physician elected to the Senate since 1928. A fourth generation Tennessean whose



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