Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid will not run for re-election next year after three decades in Congress, he announced Friday morning in a YouTube video.
The 75-year-old Nevada lawmaker has been recovering from injuries he endured from an exercise accident on New Year’s Day inside his Las Vegas home. “The decision that I have made has absolutely nothing to do with my injury, has nothing to do with my being minority leader, and it certainly has nothing to do with my ability to be re-elected,” he said.
On Friday afternoon Reid formally endorsed his longtime Senate colleague Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York to replace him as minority leader once he steps down. “Harry is one of the best human beings I’ve ever met,” Schumer said in an official statement. “His character and fundamental decency are at the core of why he’s been such a successful and beloved leader. He’s so respected by our caucus for his strength, his legislative acumen, his honesty and his determination. He has left a major mark on this body, this country, and on so many who have met him, gotten to know him, and love him.”
Schumer intends to run for Senate minority leader, a person close to the senator told NBC News’ Frank Thorp. Schumer made several calls Friday to shore up support and received many commitments of support for the leadership position, according to the source.
Schumer is currently the third ranked Democrat in the Senate behind Reid and Minority Whip Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).
Meanwhile, Reid cautioned his “friend,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, not to be “too elated” with his decision because he will continue in his position for the next 22 months. McConnell replaced him as the new Senate majority leader earlier this year. Democrats lost the majority in the Senate to Republicans during last year’s midterm elections.
“We have to make sure that the Democrats take control of the Senate again. And I feel it is inappropriate for me to soak up all those resources on me when I could be devoting those resources to the caucus, and that’s what I intend to do,” he said.
Reid has led the Senate Democrats since 2005. He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986, and, before that, served in the House of Representatives for four years. He is the longest-serving congressional member from Nevada.
“I have done my best,” he added. “I haven’t been perfect, but I’ve really tried my hardest to represent the people of the state of Nevada.”
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair Jon Tester called Reid a “tireless advocate.” “Our country is better for his leadership,” Tester posted to Twitteron Friday. “There is no question that the Senate is losing a giant. There is nobody I would rather have at my side in a fight, or as my friend, than Harry Reid,” added Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
Republican House Speaker John Boehner took a break from partisanship to say in a statement: “Harry Reid has always been a tough advocate for the people of Nevada, and I have always appreciated the candid and straightforward nature of our relationship. I wish him, his wife Landra, and their entire family all the best in the future.”
Not all of the GOP was quite as cordial.
“With the Democrat Party already in disarray, a national committee struggling to raise money, and a scandal-plagued presidential frontrunner, it’s no surprise Harry Reid realized he was about to suffer a humiliating defeat and decided to step aside,” said RNC Press Secretary Allison Moore in a statement Friday.
In his announcement video, Reid said he had previously dreamed of being an athlete. “The joy I’ve gotten with the work that I’ve done for the people of the state of Nevada has been just as fulfilling as if I had played center field at Yankee Stadium,” he said.