U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the influential chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, announced Saturday that he will not seek re-election in 2014.
"It's just time to step aside," the 73-year-old Harkin told the Associated Press. He pointed out that he would be 81 by the time he would finish a sixth term.
Harkin's announcement came as a surprise since he already had $2.7 million in his campaign war chest and was planning to hold a fundraising event in Washington D.C. next month, the AP reports.
Harkin, a leading liberal voice in the Senate, told the AP that his departure would allow a new generation of Democrats to seek higher office. His announcement puts a seat in play for the mid-term elections when Democrats will try to hold onto their majority. The GOP will need to gain six seats to take control of the Senate. So far, no Iowa Republicans have taken formal steps to run, the AP said.
Via the Associated Press