WASHINGTON – Alfonso Lenhardt, who became the Senate's first black sergeant at arms under Democratic leader Tom Daschle, is searching for a new job but is expected to remain in his post until the new Republican majority can find a replacement.
"I am well along in my search for a new position and will continue that process," Lenhardt said Monday in a written statement. He added in a "non-partisan spirit, I have committed to Senate leadership that my team and I will conduct a smooth and professional transition for the Senate community."
The sergeant at arms is the Senate's top law enforcement officer and chief administrative officer for most Senate support services. Though formally elected to the post by the full Senate, the job is among many that by tradition are filled by the Senate majority leader.
The new leader, Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., has not named a replacement.
"We're pleased Al Lenhardt has agreed to stay on during this transition period," said Frist spokesman Nick Smith.
When he was on track to be majority leader, Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., had announced that he would replace Lenhardt with Robert Maxwell, a former Mississippi police officer and Justice Department official. Lott relinquished the post after remarks that many found racially offensive.
Lenhardt became sergeant at arms on Sept. 4, 2001, a week before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and a month before an anthrax-laden letter was mailed to the office of Daschle, D-S.D., served in the Army for 31 years, retiring as a major general.