By John Fritze, The Baltimore Sun (TNS)
BALTIMORE — Senator Barbara A. Mikulski announced her retirement Monday morning.
Mikulski, speaking at the podium by herself, said she spent considerable time thinking about how she wanted to spend the next two years and ultimately decided she didn’t want to run another campaign.
“Do I spent my time raising money or raising hell to meet your day-to-day needs? Do I spend time focusing on my election or the next generation?” Mikulski said. “The more I thought about it, the more the answer became really clear.
“That’s why I’m here to announce I won’t be seeking a sixth term as a United States senator for Maryland,” she said.
Mikulski, often described as “tough as nails,” became emotional as she recalled her years growing up in Baltimore and thanked Maryland voters for honoring her “with your confidence and trust.”
Mikulski said she is eager to help elevate the next generation of Democrats, but declined to say whether there were any particular potential candidates she thought might be good for the job.
“Maryland has a lot of talent,” Mikulski quipped. “They’ll be telling you about it in the next 10 minutes.”
The Democrat and the longest-serving woman in the history of Congress addressed the media after promising an “important announcement about her future plans.”
Mikulski, 78, is Maryland’s senior senator. She began in 1976 in the House of Representatives. She has served in the Senate since 1987, recently heading the Appropriations Committee and would have been up for re-election next year.
Mikulski’s retirement is expected to set of a flurry of jockeying among the state’s already fractured Democrats, who have yet to unite after the finger-pointing that followed their loss of the governor’s mansion in November.
“It’s going to be a donnybrook,” Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said. “It creates turmoil down the entire chain. I’ve had three would-be congressmen call me already and tell me not to make any decisions. … There is no unity. There is no party boss. There is no party discipline. It’s a free for all.”
Senator Jon Tester of Montana, chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said he is confident another Democrat would emerge “and make Barbara Mikulski proud.”
Photo: Maryland National Guard