January 5th, 2010
10:34 PM ET
5 years ago

Dorgan announces he won't seek re-election

Sen. Byron Dorgan announced Tuesday that he will not seek re-election this year.
Sen. Byron Dorgan announced Tuesday that he will not seek re-election this year.

Washington (CNN) - North Dakota Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan announced Tuesday that he will not seek re-election in 2010.

"It is a hard decision to make after thirty years in the Congress, but I believe it is the right time for me to pursue these . . . interests," Dorgan said in a written statement announcing his decision.

The Democrat also said Tuesday that his decision had nothing to do with his prospects for re-election this year.

"[M]y decision has no relationship to the prospect of a difficult election contest this year. Frankly, I think if I had decided to run for another term in the Senate I would be reelected," Dorgan said.

Two well-respected, nonpartisan political reports, the Cook Political Report and the Rothenberg Political Report, had rated Dorgan's seat as safe in the 2010 elections, and Dorgan won re-election by a large margin in 2004.

North Dakota's other senator, Kent Conrad, is also a Democrat. Conrad predicted Tuesday that Dorgan's exit from the political stage was a temporary one. "Although Senator Dorgan is leaving the Senate at the end of 2010, I have a feeling that this will not be the last of his public service," he said in a statement. "It is my guess he will be on a short list of future Cabinet nominees to the Obama Administration in the coming years."

Some Republicans have urged the state's governor, John Hoeven, to mount a bid for the seat. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said Tuesday that Dorgan's decision "highlights just how vulnerable both Senate and House Democrats have become since deciding to walk in lockstep with President Obama's government-run policies...." he said in a statement. "While Senator Dorgan might be the first Democrat to announce his retirement this year, I predict he will not be the last" to bow out in 2010.

In the last two presidential elections, however, Republicans have won the state at the presidential level, with John McCain beating Barack Obama by eight percentage points in 2008 and George W. Bush winning North Dakota by 28 percentage points in 2004.

Updated: 7:10 p.m.

Dorgan's full statement:

STATEMENT BY U.S. SENATOR BYRON DORGAN
Tuesday, January 5, 2010

“Representing North Dakota in the U.S. Congress for nearly 30 years has been one of the great privileges of my life.

“The work I have been able to do to expand our economy, create new opportunities in energy and water development, invent the Red River Research Corridor with cutting-edge world class research, build a stronger safety net for family farmers and much more has been a labor of love for me.

“In recent years, becoming Chairman of key Senate Committees on Energy and Water, Indian Affairs, Aviation and more has given me much greater opportunity to help our state and country.

“For the past year, I have been making plans to seek another six-year Senate term in next year’s election. Those plans included raising campaign funds and doing the organizing necessary to wage a successful campaign.

“Even as I have done that, in recent months I began to wrestle with the question of whether making a commitment to serve in the Senate seven more years (next year plus a new six-year term) was the right thing to do.

“I have been serving as an elected official in our state for many years. Beginning at age 26, I served ten years as State Tax Commissioner followed by thirty years in the U.S. Congress by the end of 2010. It has been a long and wonderful career made possible by the people of North Dakota. And I am forever grateful to them for the opportunity.

“Although I still have a passion for public service and enjoy my work in the Senate, I have other interests and I have other things I would like to pursue outside of public life. I have written two books and have an invitation from a publisher to write two more books. I would like to do some teaching and would also like to work on energy policy in the private sector.

“So, over this holiday season, I have come to the conclusion, with the support of my family, that I will not be seeking another term in the U.S. Senate in 2010. It is a hard decision to make after thirty years in the Congress, but I believe it is the right time for me to pursue these other interests.

“Let me be clear that this decision does not relate to any dissatisfaction that I have about serving in the Senate. Yes, I wish there was less rancor and more bipartisanship in the U.S. Senate these days. But still, it is a great privilege to serve and I have the utmost respect for all of the men and women with whom I serve.

“It has been a special privilege to serve with Senator Conrad and Congressman Pomeroy, who do an outstanding job for our state. And although he inherited an economy in serious trouble, I remain confident that President Obama is making the right decisions to put our country back on track.
Further, my decision has no relationship to the prospect of a difficult election contest this year. Frankly, I think if I had decided to run for another term in the Senate I would be reelected.

“But I feel that after serving 30 years, I want to make time for some other priorities. And making a commitment to serve in the Senate for the next seven years does not seem like the right decision for me.

“So, 2010 will be my last year in the Senate. I will continue to work hard for the best interests of our state and country during this coming year. We need to get the economic engine restarted and put people back to work. We need to reform our financial system to make sure that which happened to cause this deep recession will not happen again. And we need to get our fiscal and budget policies under control. The federal budget deficits are not sustainable.

“But even as we face all of these difficult issues, I am convinced that our country will rise to the challenge.

“We are a great nation. And I have a deep sense of optimism about the future of our country.”


Filed under: Byron Dorgan • North Dakota • Popular Posts • Senate
soundoff (84 Responses)
  1. Peter

    Poor Dorgan...I wish him the best...

    January 5, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  2. Fooled Again

    Is this the same as Palin quitting?

    January 5, 2010 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  3. Ms. Callahan....just sayin'

    I think everytime we hear of someone not running again that CNN should play the song The Flight of the Bumblebee with the attached storyline.....:-)

    I think we will be seeing alot more Dems going onto the Corps that have supported their 30-40 years in office......and probably some of the Repubs too..

    January 5, 2010 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  4. proud conservative

    one down, 59 to go

    January 5, 2010 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  5. SJB

    30 years! That is criminal! Term limits are needed.

    January 5, 2010 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  6. Tom T

    This Senator was dead on when Glass Speigle was lifted. He predicted the financial crisis. I believe the White House and the Senate Democrats cutting him off at the knees on his amendment to allow the importation of prescription drugs was the final straw.
    Why beat your head against the wall when your own party cuts your throat. He's one of our best Senators and we are losing him.

    January 5, 2010 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  7. raj

    Thanks for your wise decision, we have gone through a lot in your 30 year service. Thanks again for your wise decision.

    January 5, 2010 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  8. brad anderson

    That shows how bias your poll's are. He has been shown to be down by as many as 25 points in the North Dakota poll's since it started.

    January 5, 2010 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  9. Right Leaning Independent

    That's good news to begin the new year!! Lets hope a fiscally conservative candidate is elected to replace Dorgan! They are virtually extinct today....

    January 5, 2010 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  10. Jose Vazquez

    Hopefully this means another Republican in the Senate. We need to stop the free spending liberals Democrats. Our future is in jeopardy if we continue down this path.

    January 5, 2010 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  11. terry,va

    Rats jumping off a sinking ship.

    January 5, 2010 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  12. rachelrose

    As a North Dakota resident, I say thank goodness. Its a joke around here that if you get a seat in congress in North Dakota...you do it til you die. He was going to have a very formidable opponent in the election.

    We will not miss Dorgan

    January 5, 2010 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  13. Elliott Carlin

    You waited 30 years to come to this conclusion?

    How noble.

    January 5, 2010 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  14. rockychance

    Of course Dorgan is not running again-It is obvious that he and many democrats don't have a prayer of winning in 2010. there will be at least a loss of six senators and maybe more by the democrats because they went against the will of their people.

    January 5, 2010 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  15. valwayne

    After watching the Senator vote for all the corruption this year, the stimulous bill, the AIG Bonus Guarantees, the Louisiana Purchases, and the Cornhusker Kickback its hard to say anything but: Good Riddance!!!!

    January 5, 2010 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  16. Norman

    If only Obama would utter the same words...

    January 5, 2010 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  17. "The Arc of Ambition"

    A real leader knows when it is time to step aside so that others can lead. It part of "The Arc of Ambition".

    Why don't we see more of our leaders passing the reins to the next generation?

    January 5, 2010 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  18. John G

    He can be the guest list Czar at the White House now.

    January 5, 2010 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  19. Alienprophecy (Libertarian)

    You've got to respect a guy for stepping down without having to.

    January 5, 2010 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  20. Don't blame you Byron.....

    the public is 60-30 against the Obama healthcare bill and yet you voted for it.....better get out while the gettin's good.....adios....

    January 5, 2010 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  21. m smith

    Steele is an idiot. Some repos are retiring too and some are just involved with enough scandles that maybe they won't be voted back in.

    January 5, 2010 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  22. Linda

    Wow, this is HUGE.

    Guess Senator Dorgan is sick of these Democrats in DC, including Obama, after voting down his bill a couple weeks ago, to import drugs and brings costs down, after the posturing and empty campaign rhetoric of 08 to reimport drugs and negotiate.

    Well sir, I'm sorry, I'm sure Obama's threats and chicago poliics made it an easier choice to just say so long, but it must have been hard.

    good luck.

    January 5, 2010 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  23. gofigure

    Best wishes to Byron Dorgan. And with respect, Obama will be a 1 term President, for what it is worth.

    January 5, 2010 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  24. Willy Brown

    Another democrat running out before he's thrown out in 2010.

    January 5, 2010 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  25. Ga Native

    Another Dem leaving. This is like watching roaches when the lights come on.

    January 5, 2010 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
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