Alexander's move to the third top spot in the Republican hierarchy came about when Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., announced his retirement by the end of 2006 and stepped down as minority whip.
Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., was appointed as minority whip to take over from Lott, while Alexander moved up to conference chairman to succeed Kyl.
"I assured my colleagues that I would work as hard as Trent, that I would do everything I could to assist our leader in the work that we have to do in the remaining days of this session and of course throughout the next session," Kyl said during a news conference with Alexander and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Alexander described his job as helping the caucus "express our beliefs and our principles in a way that rallies Republicans but attracts Democrats and independents."
Alexander was elected conference chair on a 31-to-16 vote. Kyl was unopposed in seeking the minority whip position.