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. Karl in Charleston,SC

    Another one bites the dust.

    January 5, 2010 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  2. Marie in California

    Dorgan is just quitting before he loses his seat in the November 2010 election.

    He won't be the first Democrat to take that route in coming months. In voting for Obamacare, a whole bunch of them are alienating their constituents. I guess you could say they are like the political version of "kamizake pilots." Go down in flames.

    January 5, 2010 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  3. Rick

    The Republicans have a long way to go to earn back trust from people like me but as long as they campaign on keeping the government OUT of peoples' lives and OUT or productive peoples' pocketbooks then their candidates have a chance.

    January 5, 2010 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  4. john lannefeld

    Oh, poor Senator Dorgan. Of course it's a difficult decision to leave congress after a mere thirty years in office! How will you survive without all of the perks of public office? Career politicians make me sick – the founding father's never envisioned a professional legislature. As far as reelection...of course you'd be reelected – the power of incumbency is too great to unseat a sitting senator unless they've been convicted of hanging out in the men's room. The public generally favors term limits and yet we are stymied by politicians who refuse to acknowledge the will of the people. I for one will never vote for an incumbent with greater than ten years service. Good luck, senator, it's not likely you will be returning to North Dakota, right?

    January 5, 2010 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  5. JES

    It's about time we put term limits for all elected officials. We need people that have vision and who will work for the people and not working on getting reelected.

    Have a nice retirement at our expense.

    January 5, 2010 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  6. bob smyth

    Good riddence to bad rubbish!!

    January 5, 2010 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  7. American Patriot

    I'm just sorry not more of these hypocritical idiots aren't quitting. They have pretty much destroyed this country.
    The incumbents who do run, vote them all out, send them home permanently! Leave no incumbents behind. Enough of their lies, special interests, pork, special retirement packages, special health care, etc., etc.
    The American people need to flood the polls and take this great country back from these career politicians, limit terms, do away with their special pensions, excessive and unnecessary travel, AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE!
    Send them all into retirement!

    January 5, 2010 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  8. john

    i'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that he trails in the polls by 22 points.

    January 5, 2010 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  9. Joseph

    It is very wise for Senator Dorgan to jump the DAME's sinking ship while it is not too late.

    January 5, 2010 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  10. Max Leygrume

    Oh man... this is getting good.

    Witness the thorough and complete destruction of liberalism – right before your very eyes !

    One year was all it took. Who could've known ?

    All it required was the election of the most leftist president in our nations history , coupled with the "perfect storm" of a House AND Senate suddenly ruled by the most out of touch liberal elites the country has to offer.

    Put 'em all on television NON STOP for the American people's viewing pleasure and... voila! Toast !

    The American people are not stupid ,although they stupidly elected these mad-men and women into office , they did so on emotion and out of frustration.

    I'm proud to call myself a Conservative , are you proud to call yourself a liberal?

    If yes , I'll expect your resignation on my desk in the a.m.

    P.S. just take a number and get in line.

    January 5, 2010 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  11. larry

    Democrat rats leaving the sinking SS Obozo!

    January 5, 2010 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  12. John

    Dorgan retiring?

    So now who will Rush have to kick around?

    January 5, 2010 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  13. Ready for 2012

    Good decision. More room for republicans.

    January 5, 2010 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  14. tjaman

    Sen. Dorgan has consistently been a moderate, thoughtful and considerate voice of reason in a deliberative and at times contentious Senate. He's certainly one of our more intelligent senators, mone consistently motivated by public service and he will be missed.

    January 5, 2010 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  15. Edwin

    Good luck, Senator Dorgan.

    January 5, 2010 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  16. scott winter haven

    The Democrats must go down.......and they must go down hard! Nice try Senator Dork!

    January 5, 2010 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  17. phoenix86

    I guess if he retires he gets his pension and if he loses he doesn't.

    January 5, 2010 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  18. shovelhead

    Nice to see another Dim falling by the wayside..

    January 6, 2010 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  19. fred

    Thank God

    January 6, 2010 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  20. Rascal

    The first of many Dems I hope.

    January 6, 2010 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  21. NSR

    This is sweet news, but not unexpected. Dorgan and Dodd have both been proven to be treasonous criminals and aren't electable anymore.

    Reid, Frank, Snowe, McCain and the others to follow.

    USA 2, Congress 0.

    January 6, 2010 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  22. Missy

    I am proud of the work Senator Dorgan has done on behalf of the citizens of ND and this country. He has served with the integrity and compassion that North Dakotans are known for and I will be sorry to see him go. No surprise that that the Republican Nat'l Committee chairman wants to read something into this, as that is what the politicos do, but I have no doubt that Sen. Dorgan would easily carry ND for another term, so it really doesn't ring true to me. 30 years is a very long time to serve in office, so is it really a stretch to think he may want to walk in a new pair of shoes and try to facilitate change from a new vantage point? Godspeed, Senator Dorgan, as you look ahead to your future and thank you for staying true to your constituents here in ND!

    January 6, 2010 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  23. Beverly in NC

    I'm sorry to hear Senator Dorgan is not going to run again. He is a progressive who fought for the public option and for real reductions in prescription drug prices.

    I know he is probably very frustrated, like we all are, with the do-nothing, hate-spewing, lying, Republicans. They did nothing this entire year but sit on the sidelines and whine and criticize and vote NO on everything to help the people out of the disasters the Republicans created in 8 years of greed and corruption.

    The Democrats care about helping the People and Republicans want to further enrich themsevles and their corporate buddies who buy their votes.

    Thank you for your service Senator Dorgan. You took your oath of office seriously and worked to help the People who elected you.

    It should be Republicans leaving since they have no interest in doing any work or anything positive. They are traitors to the People who made the mistake of voting for them.

    January 6, 2010 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  24. Clifford in New York

    Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd will announce Weds. that he won't run also! The Republican 2010 landslides have begun! HOORAY!!

    January 6, 2010 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  25. Fed Up

    That's one incumbent down. Any more willing to say they won't run before they are soundly trounced in the next election? Step right up.

    January 6, 2010 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
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