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Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid retires

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(Bloomberg) — Top U.S. Senate Democrat Harry Reid won’t seek re-election next year, ending a congressional career that spans more than three decades.

The Nevada lawmaker announced his plans to retire after this session in a video message Friday on YouTube. Reid said a January exercise accident in his Nevada home had given him “time to ponder and think” about his future.

“We have to make sure that the Democrats take control of the Senate again, 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,” Reid said in the video. “That’s what I intend to do.”

Reid’s decision after a dozen years as Senate leader opens up races to succeed him in Nevada and in the Democratic power structure in Washington, and it robs the Senate of one its few remaining dealmakers. The Republican Senate campaign committee said Democrats now have “no hope” to regain Senate control.

Reid, 75, has served in Congress for more than three decades and has been the top protector of President Barack Obama’s agenda in the Senate. He is the longest-serving member of Congress from Nevada.

Schumer, Durbin

The two most likely successors to Reid would be his deputy, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois and the chamber’s No. 3 Democrat, Charles Schumer of New York.

“Harry is one of the best human beings I’ve ever met,” Schumer said in a statement. “His character and fundamental decency are at the core of why he’s been such a successful and beloved leader.”

Senator Patty Murray of Washington, a member of Reid’s leadership team, said in a statement: “In the 16 years Harry has served as a member of Senate Democratic leadership, he has steadily guided our caucus, the Senate, and Congress through the good times and the tough ones.”

Reid is the third Democrat to announce plans to leave the Senate after 2016, even as the party tries to claw back control of the chamber. Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, who served longer in Congress than any woman in history, announced this month she wouldn’t see a sixth term. Senator Barbara Boxer of California also opted not to run again.

Among Republicans, Senator Dan Coats of Indiana said this week he would step down after next year.

Clear Path

Reid in the video said his path to re-election in 2016 was as clear as in any year. Yet after having pumped millions of dollars into a victory with just a little more than 50 percent of the vote against a Tea Party challenger in 2010, Reid would have had an arduous race to win a sixth Senate term.

Republicans said he just didn’t want to engage in a fight he would lose.

“On the verge of losing his own election and after losing the majority, Senator Harry Reid has decided to hang up his rusty spurs,” National Republican Senatorial Committee Executive Director Ward Baker said in a statement. “With the exception of Reid, every elected statewide official in Nevada is Republican and this race is the top pickup opportunity for the GOP.”

In addition to broken facial bones near his right eye socket that had impaired his vision, Reid also suffered a concussion and broken ribs in the Jan. 1 accident while exercising. He underwent 3 1/2 hours of surgery in Washington in late January to remove a blood clot caused by the accident and repair his eye socket.

His injuries were so severe that his doctors advised him against attending the first day of the new Congress in January.


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