WASHINGTON, March 3 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., surprised political observers Wednesday and announced he will retire at the end of the year.
"After a great deal of soul searching and reflection I have decided not to seek re-election to the United States Senate," Campbell said in a written statement.
The lone American-Indian in the Senate, Campbell was a distinctive figure on Capitol Hill, known for his ponytail and Harley-Davidson motorcycle. He is recovering from prostate cancer, a factor he said contributed to his decision and was hospitalized Tuesday after suffering chest pains later determined to have been caused by a severe case of heartburn.
Campbell was first elected to the Senate in 1992 as a Democrat. He joined the GOP shortly after it won control of Congress in 1994.
Until his announcement, Campbell was believed to be a candidate for re-election and had recently toured the state in advance of a formal re-election announcement.