Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid won't run for re-election in 2016, ending a lengthy congressional career that culminated in ten years of leadership of the Democratic Party in the Senate.
Reid announced the decision in a Youtube video, saying "We’ve got to be more concerned about the country, the Senate, the state of Nevada than about ourselves. And as a result of that I’m not going to run for re-election."
"We have to make sure that Democrats take control of the Senate again," he said. "And I feel that it is inappropriate for me to soak up all those resources on me when I can be devoting those resources to the caucus, and that's what I intend to do."
He's expected to be succeeded in the leadership role by New York Democrat Chuck Schumer, who won an explicit endorsement from Reid and formally entered the race for Democratic leader Friday afternoon. By mid-day, said a person close to Schumer, he had amassed commitments of support from the majority of Democratic members.
"I am honored and humbled to have the support of so many of my colleagues and look forward to our Senate Democratic Caucus continuing to fight for the middle class," Schumer said in a statement.
Reid, who was injured in a New Years Day exercising accident, said the decision had "nothing to do" with his health or his ability to be reelected in his home state of Nevada.
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But he said that the eye injury did give him and his wife "time to ponder and to think" about the future.
In a statement, President Barack Obama called Reid "a fighter" who never backed down. "As the leader of the Senate Democrats during my time in office, Harry has become not only an ally, but a friend. I'm proud of all we have accomplished together, and I know the Senate will not be the same without him," he said.
A source close to Reid said that the Democrat and his wife had discussed his retirement over the Christmas holiday last year -- before his accident.
"It's been hard but there is no question it is the right decision for him as a human being," the person said.
First elected to the House in 1982 and to the Senate in 1986, Reid became Senate Democrats' top leader in 2005. He became known for his soft-spoken but tough tactical style and his fierce opposition to Republican attempts to dismantle President Barack Obama's policies.
Reid is backing Schumer to take over the post when he retires, according to spokesman Adam Jentleson.
"It's the caucus' decision but Senator Reid thinks Senator Schumer has earned it," Jentleson said.
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, was considered a prospect to replace Reid but said late Friday that he will not run for the top spot.
"Senator Durbin told Senator Schumer late last night that he wasn't running for Leader, and that Schumer has his support," said a spokesman for the Illinois Democrat. "Durbin intends to run again for Whip and has Senator Reid's support. He's been speaking with senators this morning."
Progressive groups on Friday suggested that Sen. Elizabeth Warren should be considered for the post, but her office told NBC News that she will not seek the job.
— Carrie Dann, Kelly O'Donnell and Frank Thorp