Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) announced on Monday that he will leave the Senate at the end of his current term and not run for reelection in 2024.
Carper, 76, made the announcement official during a press conference in Wilmington, Delaware, on Monday morning. He reviewed his career’s high points before announcing that he would leave the upper chamber.
“After a good deal of prayer and introspection and more than a few heart-to-heart conversations, we decided I should do neither,” Carper stated about the potential for a run next year and then “riding off into the sunset.”
“But rather, I should run through the tape in the next 20 months and finish the important work that my staff and I have begun on a wide range of fronts.” Instead, I should finish the significant job that my staff and I have started on several fronts in the next 20 months.
The senator has served four terms and has long been a leader in First State Democratic politics. Carper formerly held the at-large House seat for the state of Delaware for ten years until obtaining his current position in 2000.
He also served two terms as Delaware’s governor. Carper has won 14 statewide elections—Carper’s choice results in yet another open primary contest in a state that leans Democratic.
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He is the fourth Democratic senator to declare that he will leave office at the end of this term. Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md. ), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) have opted not to run for office.
Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del. ), who has expressed interest in competing for the Senate if Carper decides against seeking re-election, is the overwhelming favorite to succeed the longstanding politician from Delaware.
“If the seat was open, I would definitely consider it,” Blunt Rochester, who worked for Carper as a House member, told Politico earlier this year. She added she would remain focused on her work in the House, but she would “be prepared for whatever comes.”
Carper declared that he had urged Blunt Rochester to run for the position and would back her if she did.
Carper stated, “We love Lisa,” adding that he chatted with her before making his revelation on Monday morning.
“I said, ‘You’ve been patient, waiting for me to get out of the way and I’m going to get out of the way, and I hope you run and I hope you’ll let me support you in that mission.’ And she said, ‘Yes, I will let you support me.’ And so I’m going to.”
Carper said he would hold off endorsing Blunt Rochester’s campaign until she formally launched it. Shortly after Carper’s declaration, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Schumer spoke with Blunt Rochester.
“He told her he believes she could be a really good Senator and he looks forward to sitting down with her soon,” the official continued.
Schumer called Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware after Carper’s announcement not to seek re-election. “He told her he believes she could be a really good Senator and he looks forward to sitting down with her soon,” per a Schumer spokesperson.
— Kadia Goba (@kadiagoba) May 22, 2023
Blunt Rochester would fill a hole as no Black female senators are in the office if she runs and wins. The most recent was Vice President Harris. The Delaware Representative has served in the House since 2017.
She has also been a crucial supporter of Vice President Biden, who commands considerable political clout in the state he served as senator for almost 40 years. She serves as the campaign’s co-chairwoman for his reelection in 2024.
Democratic possibilities for gains have been limited this cycle since Democrats are defending 20 Senate seats while Republicans are only doing so for 11.
Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have yet to decide whether or not to run for reelection, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who is in a position to succeed Carper as chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, will also be affected by the news in Washington.
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