U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander has had a long, varied and illustrious career in public service, experience that should convince voters to give him a third term in office.

The Maryville Republican has been in private law practice, founder of a successful company, governor, president of the University of Tennessee and U.S. Secretary of Education.

A protege of the late Howard H. Baker Jr., Alexander is principled yet pragmatic. He will serve the state well if re-elected. Should the GOP gain control of the Senate, as not a few observers see as possible, he would be in an even better position to advance the state's interests in Washington. If that happens, he would be in line to chair the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development.

Democrat Gordon Ball, a prominent Knoxville attorney, is his main opponent (10 others are on the ballot). Ball has been a behind-the-scenes force in Democratic politics in Tennessee and his legal acumen is second to none.

Alexander, however, has the breadth and depth of experience, as well as the statesmanlike personal qualities, that Tennesseans need in the U.S. Senate.