Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat who announced Friday that he would not seek re-election in 2016 after five terms in the upper chamber of Congress.
"Nothing has ever come easily to this son of Searchlight," the Kentucky Republican said, referring to Reid's hometown in Nevada. "Underestimated often, his distinctive grit and determined focus nevertheless saw him through many challenges.
"They continue to make him a formidable opponent today."
Reid, 75, told The New York Times
that he was not running again because he wanted to leave the Senate "at the top of my game."
"I don't want to be a 42-year-old trying to become a designated hitter," he said.
Reid added that his plans had nothing to do with his recent eye and face injuries from an exercising accident, nor with being knocked back to minority leader after Republicans won the Senate in November.
He quickly endorsed New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate's No. 3 Democrat, as his successor.
In a video announcement on YouTube, however, Reid sent a caution to McConnell, whom he described as "my friend."
"Don't be too elated," Reid said. "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."
The pair have openly sparred over the years, but they have long respected each other and are considered two of the best tacticians in Congress, observers say.
McConnell noted that "through every turn in his long career, Landra would be there by his side — and Harry by hers," referring to Reid's wife of 56 years. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. They have five children and 19 grandchildren.
"In a short time, they will soon have the opportunity to write yet another chapter in their story together.
"Until then, I look forward to Sen. Reid joining us in the many opportunities we'll have to accomplish important things for the American people here in the Senate," McConnell said.
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