WASHINGTON -- Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., won’t run for re-election in 2016, he announced on Friday. Reid, who served as the chamber’s majority leader for eight years, ran the Senate with a strong tactical approach that brought him both praise and criticism.
“I’m not going to run for re-election,” the 75-year-old Reid said in a video his office posted on YouTube. “My friend Sen. McConnell, don’t be too elated. I’m going to be here for 22 months and you know what I’m going to be doing? The same thing I’ve done since I first came to the Senate.”
Reid had previously insisted that he would seek re-election for his seat representing Nevada, which he has held since 1987. But in December he suffered an injury while exercising at his home in Nevada. Reid injured his eye in the accident and remains uncertain how much of his eyesight he will regain. He has had two surgeries this year to try to repair the damage.
“This accident has caused Landra and me to have a little down time. I have had time to ponder and to think. We’ve got to be more concerned about the country, the Senate, the state of Nevada than about ourselves,” Reid said.
But he insisted that the injury wasn’t why he was leaving. “The decision I have made has absolutely nothing to do with my injury, it has nothing to do with my being minority leader and it certainly has nothing to do with my ability to be re-elected,” Reid said in the video.
The New York Times first reported the news of Reid’s retirement.
Reid’s departure will set up a volley to replace him -- both in Senate leadership and in Nevada. While Reid argued in his video announcement that the decision wasn’t about his ability to get re-elected, a hard fight lay ahead of him. Reid was considered at risk of losing in 2010, but after Republicans nominated Sharron Angle, who was aligned with the tea party, he was able to easily win his seat. But Republicans were already trying to recruit Gov. Brian Sandoval to challenge Reid in 2016, a matchup that would have been very competitive.
His decision will likely bring an outpouring of support from fellow Democrats. “Harry is one of the best human beings I’ve ever met," New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said. "His character and fundamental decency are at the core of why he’s been such a successful and beloved leader. He’s so respected by our caucus for his strength, his legislative acumen, his honesty and his determination."