After an all-night budget battle in the upper chamber, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced in a video statement today that he had time to “ponder and to think” after his recent accident and subsequent eye surgeries, and would not be running for re-election.
“We have to make sure that the Democrats take control of the Senate again,” Reid said. “And I feel it is inappropriate for me to soak up all those resources on me when I could be devoting those resources to the caucus, and that’s what I intend to do.”
Reid already knows who he wants to replace him at the head of the Democratic caucus: not current No. 2 Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), but Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“I think Schumer should be able to succeed me,” Reid told the Washington Post, noting the potential leapfrogging No. 3 Dem is “extremely smart.”
Schumer, whose current title is Vice Chair of the Conference and Chair of the Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Center, issued a statement calling Reid “one of the best human beings I’ve ever met.”
“His character and fundamental decency are at the core of why he’s been such a successful and beloved leader,” Schumer continued. “He’s so respected by our caucus for his strength, his legislative acumen, his honesty and his determination. He has left a major mark on this body, this country, and on so many who have met him, gotten to know him, and love him.”
The final choice will be up to the Democratic caucus at the beginning of the 115th Congress, leaving Schumer and Durbin lots of time to jockey for position in the leadership brawl.
“Harry Reid is one of the ablest leaders of the Senate Democratic caucus in modern history—he has served our country and the people of Nevada with a tenacity and passion rarely seen,” Durbin said in a statement. “The former boxer from Searchlight never forgot his roots and never went down without a fight.
“…The Senate will miss his leadership and I will miss his friendship, but with the 114th congress only just underway, Leader Reid and Senate Democrats have a lot of work to do on behalf of working families in this country. I will be by his side every day in that fight.”
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) could also find herself in leader contention. “All of our children and grandchildren will grow up in a country that is more just, more tolerant, and offers more opportunities because of Harry Reid’s hard work and service to our nation,” the Democratic conference secretary said.
“…He has asked me to take on some tough jobs over the years, but I have always appreciated the trust he placed in me, the work he did to make sure I had the space I needed to get the job done, and the knowledge that, no matter what, Harry had my back and was going to fight for what was right.”
President Obama praised Reid as a “fighter” for “good jobs, a safer environment for our kids, and affordable health care for all” during his five terms.
Obama said Reid has “never backed down from a tough decision, or been afraid to choose what is right over what is easy.”
“Time and time again, Harry stood up to special interests and made sure every one of his constituents had a voice in their nation’s capital,” he said. “Above all else, Harry has fought for the people of his beloved state of Nevada. The son of a miner and a maid from the tiny town of Searchlight, he never forgot where he came from, and he never stopped working to give everyone who works hard the same shot at success that he had.”
“As the leader of the Senate Democrats during my time in office, Harry has become not only an ally, but a friend. I’m proud of all we have accomplished together, and I know the Senate will not be the same without him.”
Reid stressed he’s going to be around Congress for another 22 months.
“And you know what I’m going to be doing? The same thing I’ve done since I first came to the Senate,” he said.