Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, a liberal stalwart, won’t seek reelection

Sen. Tom Harkin, 73, was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1974 and became a senator in 1984.
(Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, a liberal Democrat and a champion for Americans with disabilities, announced Saturday that he will not run for reelection next year, deciding that 40 years in Congress is enough.

Harkin’s retirement gives Republicans a chance to pick up a Senate seat during next year’s midterm elections. They need to gain six seats to retake control of the Senate.

But Sen. Michael Bennet, who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said Harkin’s early announcement gives the party ample time to recruit a strong candidate to run next year. “In my short time in the Senate, I have seen firsthand Tom Harkin’s strong commitment to the people of Iowa. He is a great legislator and his accomplishments in health care, education and on behalf of people with disabilities will be remembered long after he leaves,” Bennet said.


Last week, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) said he would not run for a third term, and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said he would not run next year for a sixth term.

Harkin, 73, made the announcement in his hometown of Cumming, Iowa. He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1974 and won election to the Senate in 1984, where he has served since. He ran for president in 1992.

After 40 years, I just feel it’s somebody else’s turn,” Harkin said. “I am going to make way for someone new in this Senate seat. I think that is right not just for me, but for Iowa as well.

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