Senator Harry Reid to Retire in 2016

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Photo: Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid announced in an online video on Friday that he will not run for reelection in 2016. He insists that the decision has nothing to do with the serious facial injury he got in January, his position as minority leader, or his chances of being reelected. In 2010, Reid’s election was massively expensive — in fact, he has a history of stressfully close elections

I want to be able to go out at the top of my game,” the 75-year-old said. “I don’t want to be a 42-year-old trying to become a designated hitter.”

However, Reid’s reasons for deciding to retire after five terms seemed to have been influenced by all the factors he insists had nothing to do with it. He is worried about how expensive his 2016 campaign would be, and he wanted Democrats to spend money as wisely as possible so they could take back the Senate. “I think it is unfair for me to be soaking up all the money to be reelected with what we are doing in Maryland, in Pennsylvania, in Missouri, in Florida,” he said. “These are big, expensive states.”

The Democrats working up a game plan for 2016 are probably elated that they get to work with a clean slate in Nevada. As Politico noted last year, “Republicans think they’ve got a better shot against Reid than against a lesser-known Democrat — at least until a specific alternative emerges. Although Reid’s a master of survival, he may just have too much baggage to pull it off one final time.” Reid’s campaign had already begun fund-raising for 2016, and a spokesperson for the campaign told Politico that they knew what they were getting into: “Sen. Reid is not wasting any time preparing for what could be the most expensive Senate race in history.”

And, aware of the fact that his announcement would send Democrats and Republicans into a flurry of prognostication about who would replace him as senator and minority leader, and what it would change in the day-to-day operations of the Senate, Reid added, “My friend, Senator McConnell, don’t be too elated. I’m going to be here another 22 months.” 

The statements reacting to Reid’s news have already begun fluttering from legislative offices. New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who has long been considered a potential majority/minority leader-in-waiting, said, “Harry is one of the best human beings I’ve ever met.” On Friday morning, Reid said, “I think Schumer should be able to succeed me.” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin has also been floated as a possible replacement for Reid, but the current minority leader said that Schumer should win the leadership post with no opposition.