Bingaman the 4th Democratic senator to retire next year
February 18th, 2011
01:41 PM ET
12 years ago

Bingaman the 4th Democratic senator to retire next year

Washington (CNN) - Add Sen. Jeff Bingaman to the growing list of Democratic senators retiring after next year rather than run for re-election.

The four-term senator from New Mexico will announce later Friday that he will retire after his current term ends next year, a Democratic source confirms to CNN.

Bingaman joins Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia, Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota, and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut as members of the Democrat's 53 seat majority to announce they are not running for re-election. Lieberman, a former Democrat and current independent, is part of the majority coalition since he caucuses with the Democrats.

Two Republicans, Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, are also not making bids for another term.

After learning of Bingamin's retirement, President Obama said in a statement “From his time in the Army, to his service as New Mexico’s Attorney General and Senior Senator, Jeff Bingaman has served this country and the people of New Mexico for more than three decades. He has been a tireless advocate for preserving America’s natural resources and promoting a clean energy future. Jeff has gained the respect of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle, in New Mexico and in Washington, and his voice on the floor of the Senate will be missed. Michelle and I offer Jeff our best wishes and deepest appreciation for his lifetime of service.”

Democratic sources tell CNN that the retirement announcements are part of a larger strategy by Sen. Patty Murray, chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, to encourage her colleagues to decide swiftly on re-elections.

"The timing of these aren't incidental," a source tells CNN.
Democrats are trying to avoid what happened last cycle, when some senators announced well into the campaign season that they would not run for re-election. Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana announced in February of last year that he would not make another bid, just four days before the filing deadline for candidates to enter the race. The early retirement notices could give the DSCC plenty of time to find strong replacement candidates for the retiring senators.

But Republicans say the retirements give the GOP a great opportunity to win back the Senate.

"It speaks volumes about the state of the two political parties that as strong Republican candidates step forward in key races, Senate Democrats in important battleground states are stepping aside. Like the earlier retirements in North Dakota and Virginia, Senator Bingaman's decision immediately presents another strong pickup opportunity for Senate Republicans," National Republican Senatorial Committee communications director Brian Walsh tells CNN.

Some Democratic strategists say that Rep. Martin Heinrich, who represents New Mexico's first congressional district, could be the strongest candidate.

Bingaman captured 71 percent of the vote in his 2006 re-election victory. Then Sen. Barack Obama won the state by 15 points in the 2008 presidential election. But the GOP won back the state's governor's office and a congressional seat in last November's midterm elections.

Twenty-three Democratic held seats and 10 Republican held seats are up for grabs in the next election cycle.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PsteinhauserCNN

Filed under: Congress
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    According to Wisconsin campaign finance filings, Walker's gubernatorial campaign received $43,000 from the Koch Industries PAC during the 2010 election.

    The Koch's PAC helped Walker by giving $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn spent $65,000 on independent expenditures to support Walker.

    The RGA spent a total of $3.4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Walker's opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

    Your government, WI...bought and paid for by giant industry special interests and commanded to take away your rights and beat you into submission to yoru indentured servitude serfdom. Enjoy the ride. Learned anything yet?

    February 18, 2011 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  2. john, PA

    Nobody wants to be associated with losers, after the 2012 election; there won’t be enough Democrats to call it a party. You can’t run on:
    higher unemployment
    higher taxes
    higher home foreclosure rate
    tax evading Democratic Party
    tax evading Obama administration
    the “Porkulus” Spending bill
    out of control budget / no budget
    health care reform disaster
    4 terrorist attacks in the USA since Obama took office
    Oil spill disaster in the Gulf

    February 18, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  3. Sue

    New Mexico just elected a Rep Governor this year, Susanna Martinez. The Democrats definitely should not be so confident that they will win this seat. If the Republicans find the right candidate, the Susanna Martinez win proves that they can also win this seat. Democrats are definitely going to have to raise a lot of money for the 2012 elections--because they are going to have to fight to defend a lot of seats. There are 23 Democratic Senate seats up for reelection in 2012--the majority in conservative leaning states. There are only 6 Republican Senate seats up for reelection in 2012--the majority also in conservative leaning states.

    February 18, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |

    The weasel rats are deserting a sinking ship.

    February 18, 2011 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    Can you blame him? He will receive a full pension and benefits, not have to put up with all the bickering and rigors of running again, so why run?
    If we staggereed the benefits politicians got , they good ones might consider staying in office longer and in order to do that, thye would have to do a job good enough to get re-elected! Let's call it incentive pensioning.

    February 18, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  6. Annie, Atlanta

    Can you blame them for wanting to get out? Besides Congress being disfunctional, at best, I've never seen the political environment so toxic. Members of congress are getting death threats, or in the case of Congresswoman Giffords, actually shot. I don't see this going in a very good direction. I live in GA. I was afraid to put my Obama magnet on my car for fear of my family's and my safety. This is where we've gotten to. Very very sad. And CNN, you're contributing to the toxicity. When you have a Democrat and Republican on for that equal input, and the Republican goes off on a tangent and gets in as many talking points as possible within their allotted time, including blatant out and out lies, and you don't stop it, you're contributing. And this tea party promotion. What the heck is that all about? These people are John Birchers, who've renamed themselves as some of our earliest patriots, without the patriotism. What ever happened to just reporting the news? No wonder people are turning away. You want to be like Fox News (sic) and promote lies, deceit, and hate? Is that your goal?

    February 18, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  7. Arsenio

    @Ann – I note you don't mention the union cross hairs pointed at the WI governor. It doesn't surprise me youdont like equal time.

    February 18, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |