Senator Lamar Alexander released the following statement on the passing of former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker, Jr., of Tennessee:
“Howard Baker was Tennessee’s favorite son, one of America’s finest leaders and for Honey and me an indispensable friend. He built our state’s two-party political system and inspired three generations to try to build a better state and country. It is difficult to express how much we honor his life and how much we will miss him.”
Senator Alexander was Senator Baker’s first legislative assistant in 1967 and 1968. Senator Baker served the state of Tennessee in the U.S. Senate, where he eventually was elected majority leader, from 1967 to 1985. Senator Baker subsequently served as chief of staff to President Reagan and U.S. Ambassador to Japan. Senator Alexander met his wife, Honey when he worked for Baker and she for Texas Senator John Tower.
Senator Bob Corker said,“When I think of the ultimate statesman, the very first person who comes to my mind is Howard Baker.
“Howard Baker was one of those people who had the unique ability to bring out the very best in those around him. He always put our country’s interests first, and lived a life of service that everyone in public office should aspire to emulate. I have cherished the privilege of being able to sit down and talk with Howard on many occasions, and I will always value his words of encouragement.
“Elizabeth and I extend our thoughts and prayers to his wife, Nancy, the Baker family and all those who have been touched by Howard’s remarkable life.”
Governor Bill Haslam said, “Tennessee has lost a hero and a distinguished statesman, and I have lost a friend and mentor.
“Howard Baker made Tennesseans proud, and he taught me an important lesson when I worked for him 35 years ago. Anytime he was sitting across the desk from someone in disagreement, he told himself to keep in mind: You know – the other fellow might be right. Whether at home, in business or in politics, that is always good advice to consider.
“Nancy, Cissy, Derek and his entire family are in Crissy’s and my thoughts and prayers."
Congressman Chuck Fleischmann said, “It is with deep sadness today that I learned about the passing of one of Tennessee’s greatest statesmen, Mr. Howard Baker. As both the Senate Majority Leader and President Reagan’s Chief of Staff, Howard had an unparalleled ability to lead and build consensus allowing him to shape our nation as few before or after him ever have. His impact on the Republican Party and our country as a whole will forever be remembered. Brenda and I offer our sincerest condolences to his wife, family, friends, and colleagues during this difficult time. I was blessed to have learned from Howard while serving as his Congressman and know that his spirit and legacy will continue to live on for years to come.”
Dr. George Flinn, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, said, "I am saddened to hear of the loss of Howard Baker today. A man of honor, integrity, and an individual who contributed in so many ways to our great state and country. He will be missed greatly but his spirit and legacy will thrive in Tennessee, as well as in our nation."
Speaker Beth Harwell said, “Howard Baker was a political giant in Tennessee, in the Republican Party, and in the United States. While home from college one summer, I watched the Watergate hearings with my grandmother. His example of service inspired me, and I told my grandmother I would meet him one day. I eventually did, and was fortunate to know him well through the years as a tireless supporter of Tennessee and the Tennessee Republican Party. Both sides of the aisle had immense respect for him, and his many contributions to this state and nation made Tennesseans proud. His legacy will be one of service, humility, and honor. We've lost a great one today, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”
Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron said, "Senator Baker was partisan, but he was patriotic. And his patriotism rose above his partisanship.
“Senator Baker earned the respect of Democrats as well as Republicans. He worked in a bipartisan way with presidents and colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
"Bill Haltom's forthcoming biography about Senator Baker is entitled "The Other Fella Might Be Right." That described Senator Baker's humble and honorable attitude toward his fellow Americans of both parties. I once wrote a book review of another biography of Senator Baker, and as I studied his life, my respect for him only grew. That two devout Democrats wrote so admiringly of this Republican leader says much about this great man.
"One of the most enjoyable days of my life was participating in a program on political humor led by Senator Baker. 'Votes and Jokes' was sponsored by the Baker Center at UT Knoxville. Democrats and Republicans together laughed until we cried. Today, Democrats and Republicans together cry at our great loss, but laugh with happy memories of this great Tennessean."
TNGOP Chairman Chris Devaney said, “Howard Baker’s name is synonymous with ‘civility.’ I first met him when I worked for Fred Thompson and instantly understood why Senator Baker had such a sterling reputation.
“When I became chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, he was one of the first to congratulate me. Instead of simply retiring to his Huntsville home, he helped us get on firm financial ground and was always there to offer advice for our Party. It’s clear, when you think of the modern Republican Party in Tennessee, you think of Senator Baker.
“His legacy will always be bigger than the Party. He was more than just a legend in Tennessee—he was a titan in American politics. Senator Baker will be missed.”
Representative Joe Carr said, "Howard Baker’s integrity, record of achievement, and his commitment to service will continue to serve as a model for Tennessee’s leaders. He will be missed, but his legacy and the inspiration it provides will continue. Our prayers are with his family as they go through this difficult time. Thank you, Senator, for your service to Tennessee.”
House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick said, “I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Senator Howard Baker. His long and distinguished career serves as an excellent example for public servants and statesmen all across our great nation. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet Senator Baker while I was in high school, and it was an experience I will never forget. I would like to extend my sympathy to his family during this difficult time.”
Gordon Ball, Democrat candidate for United States Senate, said, “I am saddened to hear of the passing of Senator Howard Baker and my heart is with his family. Recently, I was asked which current or former U.S. senator I most admired and why. Howard Baker was one of two I mentioned. Senator Baker, though a highly-respected Republican leader, had an uncanny ability to cross party lines and broker compromises, often when no one else could. That’s why he was called the ‘Great Conciliator.’ He was a master of the rules and process of the United States Senate. He was a patient listener. He also had a great sense of humor, never lost his temper, and most importantly, in all the years in state, national and world politics, Senator Baker never broke his word. With those and other traits, Senator Baker was able to bring to and maintain a state of civility in the Senate, in sharp contrast to all of the bitterness, sniping, and guerrilla warfare now common there. Indeed, our current Senate could learn a lot from studying Senator Baker. He will be missed by all Tennesseans, especially those who admire honesty, integrity, and hard-fought compromise.”