Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced that he has decided against attending the Republican National Convention next month, making him the second Republican to opt out of the event.
In a statement shared with TPM on Tuesday, Alexander’s office said that although he is an honorary chair of the Tennessee Trump campaign, he will not attend the RNC “because he believes the delegate spots should be reserved for those who have not had that privilege before as he has had.”
Alexander’s announcement as Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) told reporters during a conference call Monday that he wouldn’t attend the convention due to “the virus situation,” referring to surging cases of the coronavirus across the country.
Although Alexander didn’t point to surging cases of the coronavirus across the country in his statement, last week he doubled down on his call for everyone, including President Trump, to wear a mask to reduce the spread of COVID-19, during a Senate coronavirus hearing.
During the hearing, Alexander claimed that he “suggested that the President occasionally wear a mask” despite how it’s not necessary for him to do so “in most cases.”
This year’s RNC will be held in Jacksonville, Florida in late August, after being moved from Charlotte, North Carolina. The Republican National Committee announced the move after both Gov. Roy Cooper (D) and Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles shared health and safety concerns over holding the convention amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, Jacksonville ordered the public to wear face masks in indoor and outdoor locations to slow the spread of COVID-19 as Florida continues experiencing a record spike in cases.