WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid announced Friday he will not run for another term in 2016, saying he wanted to focus on bringing Democrats back to power in the Senate rather than his own re-election.
My life’s work has been to make Nevada and our nation better. Thank you for giving me that wonderful opportunity. https://t.co/dwy2rDWYhO— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) March 27, 2015
Reid, 75, lost his role as majority leader — the Senate’s top job — when November’s elections swept the Republicans into control. He suffered a personal setback on New Year’s Day, falling while exercising and suffering serious bruises and a lasting injury his right eye.
In a statement, the Nevada Democrat said the recovery period gave him to think about his political future.
“We have to make sure that the Democrats take control of the Senate again,” he said. “And I feel it is inappropriate for me to soak up all those resources on me when I could be devoting those resources to the caucus, and that’s what I intend to do.”
Reid, first elected to the Senate in 1986, was considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats in a swing state. He turned back a challenge in 2010 and was sure to face an aggressive, big-money attack by Republicans if he ran again.
His announcement is expected to set in motion a scramble in the Senate’s Democratic leadership lineup between his top two deputies, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois.
Schumer, the third-ranking Democrat, issued a statement praising Reid for “his strength, his legislative acumen, his honesty and his determination.”
Schumer is considered the favorite to replace Reid as head of the Senate Democrats, reports The New York Times. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois could also make a bid for the position.
As majority leader, Reid thrived on behind-the-scenes wrangling. For eight years, he guided the Senate through a crippling recession and the GOP takeover of the House in the 2010 elections, which sparked years of bitter partisan battles and congressional gridlock.
Since returning to work after his fall, Reid has struggled to regain sight in his right eye, appearing in the Capitol in bandages and then with his eye shielded by tinted glasses. He told The Associated Press early this month that the injury was “a tremendous inconvenience,” but nothing more, and not enough to stop him from seeking re-election.
“I’ve had black eyes before,” said Reid, who was an accomplished amateur boxer in his youth.
In his statement, Reid cited the need to ” be more concerned about the country, the Senate, the state of Nevada than about ourselves. And as a result of that I’m not going to run for re-election.”
Reid said his role leading the Senate Democrats is “just as important as being the majority leader” and he would remain focused on that for the nearly two years left in his term.
Reid was first elected to the Senate in 1986.
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