Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) is retiring. Harkin announced on Saturday that he will not seek re-election in 2014.
The long-time senator explained his decision, saying, “It’s just time to step aside.” He added that he would be 81 by the end of another term.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, as well as multiple Democratic aides, confirmed the decision. Harkin’s choice to not seek re-election makes him the third senator up for re-election in 2014 to announce his retirement.
The Washington Post reports that Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) both announced that they won’t seek an additional term.
Tom Harkin is currently in his fifth term. He has become one of the most outspoken liberals in the Senate. He is also one of few on the left who resisted the most-recent “fiscal cliff” deal.
The Senator’s retirement gives Republicans a better chance at winning his seat. In the past, Iowa has remained a swing state, but Harkin has soared to victory easily in recent years. The New York Times notes that Harkin stated:
“To walk away from this position and this power is not an easy thing. But I think it’s the right thing. And I have two years left. I’m not passing the torch sitting down, it’s a running relay. I intend to be very active over the next two years.”
Tom Harkin’s retirement announcement took many Democrats by surprise, especially those in Iowa. They assumed he would seek re-election in 2014, but now the party will have to fight over another open seat.
[Image by English: R. D. Ward [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]