An aide for a fourth GOP lawmaker, Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), said she does not plan to travel to Jacksonville either. But the aide noted that this is not a change in plans: Collins has never attended national conventions in years when she is up for election.
On Monday, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said he would not attend, citing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic as Florida sees a surge in cases.
In a statement, an Alexander spokesman said that despite being the honorary chairman of the Tennessee delegation to the convention, the senator, who is retiring early next year, will not attend “because he believes the delegate spots should be reserved for those who have not had that privilege before as he has had.”
Alexander’s office did not immediately respond to a question about whether the coronavirus was a factor in his decision.
Both Grassley, 86, and Alexander, 80, are among the oldest GOP senators. The virus has taken a disproportionate toll on elderly Americans.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whose title makes him an honorary co-chair of the convention, does plan to attend the gathering, a spokesman said Tuesday.
“The Leader has every intention of attending,” David Popp, McConnell’s spokesman, said in a statement.
Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) also plans to attend, tweeting Tuesday: “I campaigned with President Trump in 2018 — where he helped expand our Senate majority — and touted his policies to Make America Great Again. I’ll be at the @GOPconvention in Jacksonville with @realDonaldTrump where we will kick off the 2020 campaign to #KeepAmericaGreat!”
Florida Sen. Rick Scott also plans on attending, according to Chris Hartline, the senator’s spokesman.
Karina Petersen, a spokeswoman for Murkowski, said the senator, who often spends August in Alaska, “does not plan to attend the convention at this time.”
Romney skipped the 2016 convention in Cleveland, and his spokeswoman, Liz Johnson, said Tuesday that he does not plan to attend this year’s gathering.
Alexander announced in late 2018 that he would not seek reelection this year. At the time, the senator said he had concluded that his three Senate terms and two as Tennessee governor were enough.
Alexander has cultivated a reputation as a traditional Republican, voting with Trump much of the time but also willing to work with Democrats. As chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, he has been an active player in shaping the federal response to the coronavirus.
The Republican convention was originally slated for Charlotte. But after failing to receive assurances from North Carolina’s Democratic governor about being allowed to proceed with its plans for the large event, the Republican National Committee announced that it was moving many of the major convention events, including Trump’s acceptance speech, to Jacksonville.
Grassley told reporters Monday that he has attended every Republican National Convention since 1980 and that while he supports GOP officials holding the event, they should strive to “make it as safe as possible, so that would mean with face masks and with social distancing,” the Des Moines Register reported.
Paul Kane and Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.