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Delaware Senator Tom Carper is the Latest Democrat to Not Seek Reelection

Carper is a former governor and the last Vietnam War veteran to serve in the Senate

Senator Tom Carper of Delaware announced he will not seek a fifth term in 2024.

Carper’s retirement opens yet another seat the Democratic Party will need to defend in order to retain control of the chamber. The Senator, who has been in office for over two decades, said that he and his wife Martha ultimately decided it was time for him to step down after “a good deal of prayer and introspection, and more than a few heart-to-heart conversations.”

“We decided … I 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,” Carper told NBC News

The 76-year-old was first elected to the Senate in 2001. Born in West Virginia, Carper moved to Delaware in 1973 to pursue an MBA at the University of Delaware. Carper is a Navy veteran who served both active duty and in the Naval Reserves for 23 years. He is the last Vietnam War veteran to serve in the Senate.

Carper served as the state treasurer before serving in the U.S. House of Representatives for five terms. He was then elected as the Governor of Delaware and served two terms. 

In the current Congress, Carper is the Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee and a senior member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. He is also a senior member of the Finance Committee and the Chairman of the Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness.

Carper is the fifth incumbent Democratic Senator to announce plans to retire at the end of their current terms. Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland announced he would not seek another term on May 1. Senators Dianne Feinstein of California, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin will also leave office in 2024.

In total, 20 of the 34 Senate seats that are on the ballot next year are held by Democrats. Another three seats are held by independents who caucus with the Democrats. The Republican Party has to defend or hold on to 11 seats.

Of the 20 Democrat-held seats up for election, seven are in states won by former President Trump in either 2016 or 2020,” reported Fox News in February. “Republicans, however, will not be defending any seat in a state won by President Biden, unlike the 2022 midterms where the most competitive races were in states Biden won: Nevada, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona.”

Carper told NBC he would support Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester should she decide to run for his vacant seat. 

“I’ve known Lisa since she was an intern in our congressional office,” he said. “We love Lisa and I spoke with her this morning. I said, ‘You’ve been patiently waiting for me to get out of the way, and I’m going to get out of the way. And I hope you will run, and I hope you’ll let me support you in that mission.’ And she said, ‘Yes, I will let you support me.’”

Rochester was elected to Congress in 2016. She told Politico in February that “If the seat was open, [she] would definitely consider it.”

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article mistakenly claimed that Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin was also leaving office in 2024. 

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