Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Obama Senate ally to retire

WASHINGTON — Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan, an ally of President Barack Obama, announced late Tuesday he would not seek reelection in November, boosting Republican chances of seizing his seat.

Democrats, when joined by two independents, currently hold exactly the 60 Senate seats needed to overrun Republican procedural roadblocks, and several other Obama allies face tough campaigns as well.

Dorgan's decision, announced in a statement released by his office, came after a public opinion poll found him trailing a possible Republican rival by 20 points.

"I will not be seeking another term in the US Senate in 2010. It is a hard decision to make after thirty years in the Congress, but I believe it is the right time for me to pursue these other interests," he said.

Five Republican senators have already announced plans not to seek reelection.

Democratic senators appointed to fill vacancies in Illinois and Delaware -- seats held by Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, respectively -- have said they will leave office when their terms expire in January 2011.

But Dorgan is the first elected Democratic senator to do so.

Among the other White House allies in trouble: Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, and Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln.

More than a dozen Republican House members have announced they plan to retire, while Democrats hope to hold on to about 10 seats held by members not seeking reelection.

Mid-term US elections typically see the party that holds the White House lose congressional seats, and Republicans hope a rising anti-incumbent tide -- fed by double-digit unemployment -- will further boost their fortunes.


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