WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic Senator Kent
Conrad, who has led efforts to get the U.S. budget under
control, said Tuesday that he will not run for re-election
in 2012, a decision that helps Republican efforts to win
control of the Senate after a strong showing in 2010.
Conrad's warnings about the United States' fiscal woes led
to a presidential commission that recommended spending caps and
a revamped tax code last year in order to head off a
Greek-style debt crisis.
The commission's plan could form the basis for
deficit-reduction efforts in Congress as lawmakers seek to
bring down shortfalls that have reached 9 percent of GDP in
"It is more important I spend my time and energy trying to
solve these problems than to be distracted by a campaign for
re-election," the North Dakota Democrat said in a prepared
As chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Conrad will
play a crucial role in the looming battle over federal
Republicans who control the House of Representatives are
pushing for deep cuts to domestic programs, but the
Democratic-controlled Senate is unlikely to go along. The two
chambers will have to agree on a spending plan by March to
avoid a government shutdown.
Conrad, 62, has amassed a moderate voting record since he
was first elected to the Senate in 1986. He likely would have
faced a tough re-election fight in his rural state. Fellow
North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan retired last year ahead of a
tough re-election. Republican John Hoeven easily won the seat.
Republicans need to pick up four seats in 2012 to win
control of the 100-seat Senate.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is
leading that effort, said Conrad's seat is one of their best
(Reporting by Andy Sullivan; editing by Stacey Joyce)
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