Sen. Harry Reid announced on Friday that he will not seek re-election next year and will retire after serving for 30 years — including eight years as Senate Majority Leader.
The Nevada Democrat's announcement took some observers by surprise, but there are several compelling reasons behind the veteran politician's decision. Here are the 10 real reasons Harry Reid quit the Senate:
1. Reid faced a difficult re-election battle next year.
According to a "Crystal Ball" report from the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, "We identified Reid as probably the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent in this Senate cycle." Retirement allows Reid to avoid a humiliating defeat.
2. Reid feared that another campaign in Nevada would take away money and attention from Democratic candidates in other states.
"We have to make sure that the Democrats take control of the Senate again," he said in a statement he posted online. "And I feel it is inappropriate for me to soak up all those resources on me when I could be devoting those resources to the caucus."
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3. He has been held responsible for the Democrats' net loss of nine Senate seats
in November. Republican Mitch McConnell, Reid's successor as Majority Leader, attributed the GOP surge partly as a rejection of Reid.
4. He was chastened by his difficult re-election fight in 2010.
At one point he was down by 11 percentage points in a poll against Republican Sharon Angle, considered a weak and controversial candidate. Angle helped out Reid by, among other things, claiming that Dearborn, Michigan, was under Sharia law and saying the 9/11 hijackers had entered the U.S. from Canada. Angle still won 14 of Nevada's 17 counties.
5. Reid is battling back from injuries he suffered in a fall on New Year's Day
, which left him with broken ribs and impaired vision in his right eye. He still wears darkened glasses to protect the damaged eye.
6. He's reacting to fallout from this week's inspector general findings.
Reid's retirement announcement came just days after an inspector general said he used his influence to lobby a Homeland Security Department official for special treatment regarding visas for investors in a casino property in Nevada. Back in 2005, Reid earmarked a spending bill to provide funds for a bridge that would make land he owned more valuable. A year later, it was reported that Reid used campaign funds to pay for $3,300 in Christmas gifts to the staff at his condominium.
7. His age. Reid is 75.
If he ran for re-election next year he would be 83 years old when his sixth term expired.
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8. His hometown newspaper had come out against him.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal last year castigated Reid for his comment that "five white men" on the Supreme Court ruled that businesses don't have to provide birth control if doing so would violate the employer's religious beliefs. One of the five was Clarence Thomas, who is black. The newspaper accused Reid of "race-baiting" and using "outrageous rhetoric."
9. Despite Democrats' losses in November, Reid could retire with a feeling of accomplishment.
He succeeded in protecting President Barack Obama's deportation amnesty policy from Republicans who tried to end it through the spending process, and more recently he blocked an anti-human trafficking bill because it contained language barring federal funds from being spent on abortion.
10. He wants to spend more time with his family.
Reid, a father of five, last year sold his home in Searchlight, Nevada, and bought a condo near Las Vegas so he and his wife — who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 — could be closer to their grandchildren. Retirement enables Reid to spend more time with his family in Nevada instead of splitting his time between Washington and his home state.
Some Republicans cheered Reid's retirement announcement as aiding the GOP's success next year.
"On the verge of losing his own election and after losing the majority, Senator Harry Reid has decided to hang up his rusty spurs," said Ward Baker, executive director of Senate Republicans' campaign committee. "His retirement signals that there is no hope for the Democrats to regain control of the Senate."
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