Reid endorses Chuck Schumer as Senate Minority Leader

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid announced early Friday he won't seek re-election in 2016.

By Amy R. Connolly

WASHINGTON, March 27 (UPI) -- Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid endorsed New York Senator Charles E. Schumer to succeed him as Democratic leader after he retires in 2016.

Reid predicted Schumer would win the post without opposition and said the other likely contender, Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., would likely forgo a bid for the seat. Schumer holds the Senate Democrats' No. 3 seat behind Durbin.


Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson says that the choice is up to Senate Democrats, "but Sen. Reid thinks Sen. Schumer has earned it."

Friday, Reid, 75, announced he will not seek re-election next year, bringing his three-decade congressional career to a close. The Nevada Democrat made the announcement on his website saying the injuries he sustained in a January exercise accident allowed him to "have a little down time."


"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 in a video.

Reid, who has led Senate Democrats since 2005, said he wanted to get out "on the top of my game," adding he didn't want to tie up resources that could help Democrats take back the Senate in 2016. Reid would have likely faced a difficult re-election bid after an unlikely victory in 2010 against Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle. Republicans were lining up to take him out in 2016, with the possibility of Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a rising Republican star, entering the race. Reid's decision Friday will set off renewed maneuvering for his seat.

Catherine Cortez Masto, Nevada's former attorney general, is considered a strong Democratic candidate to take Reid's place.

"We have to make sure that the Democrats take control of the Senate again. 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," he said.


Republicans said Reid's decision underscores the difficulties Democrats would have had in 2016.

"Sen. Harry Reid has decided to hang up his rusty spurs. 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," Ward Baker, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said. "With the exception of Reid, every elected statewide official in Nevada is Republican and this race is the top pickup opportunity for the GOP."

Reid began his career in Washington in 1982 in the House and was elected to the Senate in 1986 and re-elected in 1992, 1998, 2004 and 2010. Reid was elected minority leader in 2005 following the re-election defeat of Tom Daschle of South Dakota. He has had the longest tenure as floor leader in the history of the Senate.

Reid has long battled Republicans over issues that include immigration and Obamacare to advance Democratic priorities and block GOP initiatives.

In announcing his departure, Reid had a special message to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., "... don't be too elated. I am going to be here for twenty-two months, and you know what I'm going to be doing? The same thing I've done since I first came to the Senate."


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