Updated: 6:30 p.m.
Michigan Rep. Dale Kildee, one of the most senior Democrats in the House, announced Friday that he will not run for re-election in 2012.
“After careful consideration, I have decided to retire at the end of this term to enjoy more time with my wife, three children and ten grandchildren,” Kildee, 81, said in a statement from his office.
Democrats will likely hold on to Kildee’s seat next cycle. Republicans in the state Legislature recently passed a new Congressional map that did not drastically alter the partisan makeup of Kildee’s district.
“Now that the new congressional maps have been approved by the Michigan State Legislature, I am confident that the 5th district will remain in Democratic hands and that it is an appropriate time to announce my retirement,” Kildee added in his statement. “While I know I would be able to win re-election in the new 5th district, I’ve decided that after 36 years in Congress it is time to retire.
Democrats might view Kildee’s retirement as a blessing after Republicans redrew the Congressional map putting sophomore Rep. Gary Peters (D) and 15-term Rep. Sander Levin (D) in the same district. Although Peters’ home in Pontiac is only 36 miles from Kildee’s base in Flint, a Peters aide told Roll Call that the Congressman is not interested in running for the now-open 5th district seat.
Almost immediately following Kildee’s announcement, the names of several Democrats emerged as potential successors in the blue-collar district.
Michigan insiders say former Rep. Jim Barcia (D) would be the early favorite in the race if he decides to run. During the last round of redistricting in 2002, mapmakers put Barcia and Kildee in the same Congressional district. Barcia opted to run for state Senate instead of against Kildee.
But Barcia would likely have lots of company if he runs for the seat, including former Lt. Gov. John Cherry (D). Cherry, former Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s (D) deputy, ran for governor last cycle but dropped his bid when he could not raise enough money.
State Sen. John Gleason (D) told Roll Call in a telephone interview that he’s “extremely serious” about a bid. Gleason considered challenging Kildee in the 2008 Democratic primary but eventually opted against it.
Democrats also mentioned Kildee’s district director, Tiffany Flynn, as a potential candidate, as well as attorney Mike Manley.
Informed Democrats also mentioned that Kildee’s nephew, former Genesee County Treasurer Dan Kildee, wanted to run for his uncle’s House seat in the past. Dan Kildee did not return an email seeking comment.
Kildee’s announcement marks the third House Member to announce his or her retirement this cycle without seeking higher office. Two other Democrats, Reps. Dan Boren (Okla.) and Lynn Woolsey (Calif.), have said they will not run for another term.
To track the Members who are not running for re-election next year, check out the Roll Call Casualty List.