Updated 1:12 p.m. | BALTIMORE — Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski announced Monday she will not seek another term in the Senate.
Speaking at a press conference, the Maryland Democrat said she asked herself: “Do I spend my time raising money, or do I spend my time raising hell?” Mikulski, 78, is the longest serving woman in Congress. She has been in the Senate since 1987, after serving 10 years in the House.
Her retirement will likely launch a feeding frenzy among candidates eager to run for a rare open Senate seat in Maryland. Both party campaign committees quickly released statements arguing the seat’s competitiveness in a state Democrats have dominated statewide in federal races.
“I am confident that in November 2016 we will elect a new Democratic senator who will fight for Maryland every day and make Barbara Mikulski proud,” said Jon Tester, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said that with the GOP winning the governorship in Maryland last year, “there’s no question that an open Senate seat in Maryland instantly becomes a top pickup opportunity for Republicans.”
Mikulski is the second senator to announce she is retiring next year, following California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid released a statement following Mikulski’s announcement, saying he has “had no better friend” in the Senate and recalling her strong voice on Sept. 11, 2001.
“As Members of Congress returned to the Capitol and met on the steps that terrible day, Senator Mikulski’s voice rose above us all as she said, ‘We’ll sing ‘God Bless America,'” Reid said. “And we did. It was a poignant moment that I will never forget.”
In a statement released by the White House, President Barack Obama said the senator’s service “spans decades, but her legacy will span generations.”
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