U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin announced Saturday he would not seek re-election as his current term is set to expire after the 2014 General Election.
“I have been thinking hard about the decision whether to run for a sixth term in the United States Senate for a number of months — even more these last few weeks. I’ve reached a decision, and what I’ve decided really boils down to two things,” he said. “First, I’m going to fulfill a promise that I made to my wife Ruth, and that I also made to myself. It’s a promise that we’re going to do certain things together — and that we’re going to live together in a way we’ve often talked about — before it gets too late. That’s a decision I believe many Iowans can relate to, either because of their own circumstances, or perhaps those of their parents. I have the privilege to be able to make this decision on my own terms, which not everyone can, and I’m deeply grateful to the people of Iowa that I do have that opportunity.”
Harkin, a native of Cumming, talked about his growing up under modest circumstances, the son of a coal miner with an eighth-grade education and an immigrant mother. He also noted his age as a factor in his decision.
“Second, I’m 73 years old right now. At the end of this term I’ll be 75. When the current Congress is over, I will have served in the United States House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate for a total of 40 years. After 40 years, I just feel it’s somebody else’s turn,” he said. “I can’t put into words what an honor it is to serve Iowa. And I don’t by any means plan to retire completely from public life at the end of this Congress. But I am going to make way for someone new in this Senate seat. I think that is right not just for me, but for Iowa, as well.”
In announcing his plans, Harkin said that over the next two years in Congress, he would continue to advance a policy agenda that benefits Iowa. Among his priorities:
• Moving forward with bills to ensure that all Americans are able to achieve the promise of a quality education – beginning in early childhood, continuing through elementary and high school, and culminating with higher education.
• Working to significantly increase the employment of individuals with disabilities, in order to continue to fulfill the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
• Advancing his proposal of a new type of pension plan, the USA Retirement Fund, to provide Americans with a secure source of retirement income for life.
• Ensuring the successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Harkin first won election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1974, representing Iowas Fifth Congressional District until 1984. That year, he unseated incumbent U.S. Sen. Roger Jepsen. This is his fifth term, making him the longest-serving Iowa Democrat in the Senate.