Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid will not be seeking re-election in 2016.
The former majority leader, who has been a top target for Republican ire, released a video message Friday citing his New Year’s Day exercise injuries, saying they provided him “down time.”
“I have had time to ponder and to think,” he explained. “We’ve got to be more concerned about the country, the Senate, the state of Nevada than us. And as a result of that I’m not going to run for re-election.”
While the powerful Nevada Democrat said the accident gave him time to think, he stressed that the decision was not due to the injury.
“The decision that I’ve made has absolutely nothing to do with my injury, it has nothing to do with my being minority leader and it certainly has nothing to do with my ability to be re-elected because the path to re-election is much easier than probably has been any time that I’ve run for re-election,” he said.
Reid’s departure from the Senate in 22 months will end a three decade tenure in the Senate. He was first elected to the Senate in 1986. Before that, he served two terms in the House of Representatives.
His announcement comes the same week a Department of Homeland Security Inspector General report criticized Deputy DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over providing immigration benefits for the politically connected. The report named named Reid as a beneficiary of Mayorkas’ influence.
Following the announcement Friday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee offered an early victory dance, arguing that Reid was set to lose his re-election after losing the majority last cycle.
“Not only does Reid instantly become irrelevant and a lame duck, his retirement signals that there is no hope for the Democrats to regain control of the Senate,” NRSC executive director Ward Baker said.
He added that the Nevada race is now a hot ticket for Republicans.
“With the exception of Reid, every elected statewide official in Nevada is Republican and this race is the top pickup opportunity for the GOP.”
Meanwhile Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT) praised Reid’s tenure and signaled Democrats would put up a fight in Nevada.
“There is a talented pool of Nevada Democrats who are ready to step up to the plate, and we will recruit a top-notch candidate in Nevada who will be successful in holding this seat in 2016,” he said.