Four-Term Democratic Sen. Tom Carper Announces Retirement

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Four-term Democratic Delaware Sen. Tom Carper announced Monday that he will not seek reelection in 2024.

“Some 59 years have passed since I first raised my hand as a 17-year-old naval midshipman, and P3 mission aircraft commander,” Carper said at a press conference in which he rehashed his political and military careers. He explained that his final 20 months in office would be a “sprint,” while name-checking environmental and tax policies he would push for in his year-and-two-thirds in office.

Carper has held elected office since 1977, when he became Delaware state treasurer, and has won 14 statewide elections without a loss. He served in the House of Representatives from 1983-1993, and was governor of the state for two terms. Carper also served three tours in Vietnam as an National Aviation Officer, and is the last veteran of the conflict currently serving in the Senate.

“If I ran for a fifth term in the Senate and won, it would be a record 15 statewide elections,” the senator added. “After a good deal of prayer and introspection, and more than a few heart-to-heart conversations, we’ve decided we should run through the tape over the next 20 months and finish the important work that my staff and I have begun on a wide range of fronts, many of them begun in partnership with Democrat and Republican colleagues in the Senate and in the House.”

Carper is the fourth Democratic senator to announce a retirement ahead of the 2024 cycle, joining Ben Cardin of Maryland, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, and Dianne Feinstein of California. At the same point in the 2022 cycle, no Senate Democrats had announced their retirement, although five representatives had. (RELATED: Amid Retirement Rumors, Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin Raises Only $15,000)

At-large Democratic Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester is the likely favorite to replace Carper in a state that President Joe Biden won in 2020 by 19 points. A former staffer for Carper, Blunt Rochester won reelection by 12.5 points in 2022. No Republican has represented the state in the Senate since 1973, when Joe Biden succeeded J. Caleb Boggs. The last Republican member of Delaware’s congressional delegation, Mike Castle, left office in 2011.