Alexander Now No. 1 in the U.S. Senate (alphabetically speaking)

Democratic Sen. Daniel K. Akaka of Hawaii is retiring and that means Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee will become first in the U.S. Senate, alphabetically speaking. The New York Times reports that means change in a decades-old tradition of roll call voting.
Mr. Akaka, 88, is retiring, departing not long after the death of Mr. Inouye, who was born just four days before him in 1924. It is a huge change for Hawaii, which was represented in the Senate since 1963 by Mr. Inouye, a legendary figure both in Hawaii and Washington, and since May 1990 by Mr. Akaka after his appointment to an unexpired term and subsequent election to three full terms.
And it will be a change for the Senate as well, not only in the loss of two popular Democratic colleagues, but also for the role Mr. Akaka played in the roll.
“It is almost as if he were part of the Senate procedure,” said Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican who is now in line to lead off the roll after Mr. Akaka departs with the start of the 113th Congress on Jan. 3. “It is like a page will be missing from the rule book. It is unsettling, and it is going to take a little getting used to.”
Mr. Akaka has not been No. 1 his entire tenure. Spencer Abraham, a Michigan Republican, came along in 1995 and took over the top spot. But he was defeated in 2000 by a Democrat, Debbie Stabenow, someone way down near the other end of the alphabet, clearing the way for Mr. Akaka’s return to the top of the order.
“I have always been proud about it, and I am going to miss it,” Mr. Akaka said of his alpha-Senate status. “The clerk told me the other day, ‘Wow, I am going to miss calling your name.’ ”

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