Top Senate Democrat Harry Reid announces retirement in 2016Posted by Mona Salama on March 27, 2015
WASHINGTON — Senator Harry Reid announced today in a YouTube video that he would not be seeking re-election in 2016, ending a 30-year congressional career.
The majority leader from 2005 until 2014, the 75-year-old Nevada lawmaker limited his fellow Senate colleagues to vote on amendments. His announcement came hours after the senators finished vote-a-rama of many amendments in which Reid held back during his tenure as majority leader.
2016 was seen to be a big fight to remove Reid from the Senate, especially from an ever-growing tea party coalition looking to oust Reid. Barely surviving a tricky re-election five years ago, Reid stated it would be “inappropriate for him to soak up resources while Democrats have a real shot at taking back the Senate.” In an interview after the video, he noted the big expensive states such as Pennsylvania, Florida, Maryland and Missouri as top targets for Democrats.
Reid denied any retirement rumors even after suffering a serious eye injury earlier this year as he struggles to regain sight of the eye. In the video, Reid said, “the decision I made has absolutely nothing to do with my injury and it has nothing to do with my ability to be reelected.” The decision to not seek re-election is said from Reid to focus on bringing back Democrats control of the Senate as he rather focuses on that than his own re-election.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), one of Reid’s political allies who helped him and Democrats take over the Senate in 2006 is considered a favorite to replace Reid in his leadership post. His video announcement after, led to Reid endorsing Schumer of New York over Dick Durbin from Illinois even though Durbin is second to Reid, to succeed him in 2017. The endorsement from Reid hours after announcing his retirement will bring the necessary support from other Democrats to support Schumer as well.
As a former trial lawyer and head of the Nevada gambling commission, Reid was elected to Congress in 1982 and in 1986 he won the Senate seat. Being the longest serving house member from Nevada, he joined the leadership ten years later and took over the majority leader post in 2005 after then leader Tom Daschle from South Dakota lost his re-election bid.
With President Barack Obama elected in 2008 and a Democratic control of the senate, Reid was able to push forward the new health care law, as well as the economic stimulus package with no Republicans voting yes on this measure. In 2013, Reid tried to push for comprehensive immigration legislation. It was passed in the senate but failed in the house. Reid who opposed any immigration policy in the 1990s, changed his views years later as illegals began to flood his state of Nevada.
National Republican Senatorial Committee released a statement after the announcement stating this race is a “top pick opportunity for the GOP…there is no hope for the Democrats to regain control of the Senate.” Now with the seat open, the struggle from both sides will become a race to watch during the road to 2016.
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