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

Dorgan announces he won't seek re-election

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/05/art.dorgan0105.gi.jpg caption="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:

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. out with the old

    Good. We need to get some new representatives in the Congress.

    January 5, 2010 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  2. Blue Dogs for Perry 2010

    The Democrats are likely to lose the House and 5 Senate seats in November.

    Dorgan KNEW he was going to lose to Hoeven (if he announce already) and after 18 years in the Senate, folks were sick of him.

    January 5, 2010 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  3. GOPBslapper

    He served his state well and with honor that's rare these days. But some fresh blood in the Senate is a good thing........as long as it's a Democrat and no one from the Party of No. America doesn't need another Grumpy, out of touch , Nattering naybob of negativity,GOP Moron.

    January 5, 2010 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  4. chris l

    and another member of the anti American Radical Party bites the dust.

    January 5, 2010 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  5. bill

    Good idea. You probably would have been defeated like the other democrats will be. Good bye.

    January 5, 2010 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  6. JTM5

    Now if the rest of the Dems would follow suit, our country might be salvageable! Pretty arrogant of him to think he would be reelected if he did run... that is for the people to decide.

    January 5, 2010 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  7. joe smith

    seems rather obvious, with so many incumbants deciding to retire, that the old skeletons in the closet have been rattling their bones; question is; whos' doing the rattling, and what will be even more revealing, what are they hiding..cause a cushion job, like congressman/senator, with all those perks, is hard to give up..has to be a real story here somewhere..

    January 5, 2010 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  8. Four and The Door

    The Democrat also said Tuesday that his decision had nothing to do with his prospects for re-election this year.
    It's a whole lot more fun to "retire" or pursue other interests than to lose an election. We are going to see a bunch of Democratic Representatives and Senators making the same choice before 2010. After being a part of these "Democratic health care negotiations" and seeing Harry Reid in action, they are probably disgusted by the way our government works in Washington. The rest of us are.

    January 5, 2010 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  9. Jerry

    They're jumping like rats leaving a sinking ship.

    January 5, 2010 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  10. bcdc

    Another jumping ship....don't worry Byron you still will be remembered for the damage you helped bring on the USA.

    January 5, 2010 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  11. Justin

    One of the Senate's most eloquent and intelligent senators. His shoes will be difficult to fill.

    January 5, 2010 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  12. marc from california

    well, i gues we democrats can kiss this seat goodbye

    January 5, 2010 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  13. lifelong democrat

    Oh my! Did I hear mayday? It seems long time politicians in my party is now abandoning ship like rats.

    January 5, 2010 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  14. Evelyn Mills

    This is a sad day for America's middle class as he seemed to be one of the very few who cared about all the outsourceing of middle class jobs ,of illegl immigration and of the financial mess this country is in and how we got to this point.I wish him the best.

    January 5, 2010 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  15. lifelong democrat

    Senator Dorgan, not being disrespectful sir; but democrats like you who forgot why you're there in the Senate is the reason why lifelong democrats like me will stay at home this November. When all of you in Congress and Senate doesn't listen to the people anymore, you've become a dictator. We know what is good for us senator, we are against your brand of healthcare reform, we are against cap and trade, we are against bailouts, we are against increase in taxes.

    Ahhhhh my party is a BIG DISAPPOINTMENT.

    January 5, 2010 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  16. Lynell

    I am so sad to see Senator Dorgan retire. He is a good man who has served our state nobly over the past 30 years. He knew that the deregulation of the banking industry would lead to great financial peril and has spoken out against it ever since it was first proposed. He is also fighting for more affordable prescription drugs.Thank you Senator Dorgan! The state of North Dakota and the Democratic Party will certainly miss your service.

    January 5, 2010 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  17. Mr Joshua

    Looks like another one bites the dust.......

    January 5, 2010 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  18. Albo58

    This Dimwit decided to go ahead and abandon a sinking ship before the perfect storm hits in November! Good on him!

    January 5, 2010 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  19. TOTUS

    Obama is giving us the change that we crave sooo much – even if indirectly and unintentionally. We'll still take it – out with ALL of these loony Dems.

    January 5, 2010 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  20. TCM

    Hard decision? You democratic clowns will be routed..better to cut your loses now, instead of a succession speech....writing's on the wall..and notice is served...especially to Pelosi, Reid, Dodd...and in 2012 Obama...the country doesn't want you idiots.

    January 5, 2010 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  21. dude palin

    30 years..That's long enough for anyone..Thank you for your service and may God be with you...

    January 5, 2010 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  22. Howard

    Too bad we can't get our two Washington state Senators to find some other interests that they want to pursue.

    January 5, 2010 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  23. Sue

    ........""[M]y decision has no relationship to the prospect of a difficult election contest this year."

    Yeah, okay Dorgan.

    I find it funny..........The Democrats think that all citizens/voters are as blind, clueless, and gullible as the loony left.

    The MAJORITY in this country will be voting anti-Obama, anti-Pelosi, anti-Reid, and anti-loony left in the 2010 elections.

    Dorgan knows this as well. And, if you are not against them--you are one of them. Therefore, you WILL be voted out of office.

    January 5, 2010 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  24. ib

    Good; now to get rid of more of these people that are ramming healthcare higher costs and higher energy cost with cap & scam out of office and our country and we will be a lot better off.

    January 5, 2010 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  25. DingDong

    What is the different. One crook out, another crook will replace it. Screw the goverment. Only lazy and dumb people need goverment

    January 5, 2010 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
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