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GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander won't seek reelection

Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderCongress addressed surprise medical bills, but the issue is not resolved Trump renominates Judy Shelton in last-ditch bid to reshape Fed Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes MORE (R-Tenn.) on Monday announced that he will not run for reelection in 2020.

"I will not be a candidate for re-election to the United States Senate in 2020. The people of Tennessee have been very generous, electing me to serve more combined years as Governor and Senator than anyone else from our state," Alexander said.

Alexander, who has been in the Senate since 2003, said he will serve out the remainder of his term, which runs through the end of 2020. 

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"I have gotten up every day thinking that I could help make our state and country a little better, and gone to bed most nights thinking that I have. I will continue to serve with that same spirit during the remaining two years of my term," he added.

Alexander, 78, is the first senator up in 2020 to announce that they won't seek reelection. Republicans face a challenging map during the next cycle, where they'll be defending approximately 22 seats, including in states like Colorado and Maine, which Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMedia circles wagons for conspiracy theorist Neera Tanden The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Senate ref axes minimum wage, House votes today on relief bill Democratic strategists start women-run media consulting firm MORE won in 2016.

Alexander is also the latest in a string of GOP chairmen from the establishment wing of the party to announce that they will retire during the Trump era: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchHow President Biden can hit a home run Mellman: What happened after Ginsburg? Bottom line MORE (R-Utah) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerIt's time for Biden's Cuba GOP lawmaker patience runs thin with Trump tactics Former GOP senator: Republicans cannot let Trump's 'reckless' post-election claims stand MORE (R-Tenn.) are retiring at the end of the current Congress.

Corker, on Monday, called working with Alexander "one of the highlights" of his work in the Senate.

"As one of the finest statesmen our state has ever seen, Lamar will leave behind a remarkable legacy. I know he will press through the next two years with great vigor, and I look forward to all he will accomplish on behalf of Tennesseans as he completes his service in Washington," Corker said in a statement.

Alexander previously served as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and is considered to be close to both Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump shows he holds stranglehold on GOP, media in CPAC barnburner Trump rules out starting a new party: 'Fake news' Sunday shows - Trump's reemergence, COVID-19 vaccines and variants dominate MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerThe bizarre back story of the filibuster Hillicon Valley: Biden signs order on chips | Hearing on media misinformation | Facebook's deal with Australia | CIA nominee on SolarWinds House Rules release new text of COVID-19 relief bill MORE (D-N.Y.).

He's also been at the center of some of the biggest fights in the Trump administration because of his position as chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. 

He was part of a working group of GOP senators, assembled by McConnell, that crafted the Senate GOP's failed ObamaCare replacement bill last year. 

But Democrats have credited him with being willing to work with them on key issues despite growing partisanship in the Senate. 

He crafted a deal with Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: 50 million coronavirus vaccines given | Pfizer news | Biden health nominees Rand Paul criticized for questioning of transgender health nominee Biden health nominee faces first Senate test MORE (D-Wash.), the top Democrat on the health committee, to funds key payments to health insurers for two years.

He was also one of less than 10 GOP senators who voted for a bipartisan immigration proposal earlier this year that would have provided approximately 1.8 million immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children an eventual pathway to citizenship in exchange for $25 billion in border security. 

Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyLawmakers commemorate one-year anniversary of Arbery's killing Democrats revive debate over calling impeachment witnesses LIVE COVERAGE: Senate trial moves to closing arguments MORE (D-Mass.) on Monday also credit Alexander as being a "true partner" in addressing the country's opioid epidemic. 

Alexander's decision to retire will leave a hole in Tennessee politics, where he has been a mainstay for decades. He was first elected to the Senate in 2002, previously served as governor of Tennessee and made two unsuccessful bids for the White House in 1996 and 2000.

But he was considered potentially vulnerable to a primary challenge in 2020 after winning narrowly fending off tea party challenger Rep. Joe Carr during the 2014 GOP primary. 

It's unclear who will vie to succeed Alexander. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) flirted with a Senate bid in 2018. And state Sen. Mark GreenMark GreenREAD: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results Here are the Republicans planning to challenge the Electoral College results Republicans press FBI for briefing on efforts by Chinese government operatives to gain influence with lawmakers MORE (R) hinted last year that he could make a Senate run in 2020.  

Green told USA Today in August that he would be "back in the election cycle" in 2020.

"I think that's going to be an opportunity for me potentially later," he added about a potential Senate run. 

President TrumpDonald TrumpSacha Baron Cohen calls out 'danger of lies, hate and conspiracies' in Golden Globes speech Sorkin uses Abbie Hoffman quote to condemn Capitol violence: Democracy is 'something you do' Ex-Trump aide Pierson planning run for Congress MORE won Tennessee by more than 26 points in 2016. In last month's election to replace Corker, Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnPassage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers Biden health nominee faces first Senate test MORE (R-Tenn.) defeated former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) by nearly 11 points.

Updated at 1:12 p.m.