Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware won’t seek reelection in 2024, opening up another seat Democrats will need to defend if they are to maintain their Senate majority next year.
The 76-year-old Democrat has been in public office for decades. He began his career as state treasurer in 1976, followed by a stint in the House of Representatives, and then as governor for eight years before entering the Senate in 2001.
Carper rose quickly in the upper chamber to chair the Homeland Security Committee and later the Environment and Public Works Committee. He was involved in drafting the climate provisions of President Joe Biden’s signature legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act.
Carper fended off a progressive primary challenger during his 2018 race for reelection, easily beating 38-year-old Air Force veteran and community organizer Kerri Evelyn Harris.
Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) is the favorite to replace Carper in the Senate. The 61-year-old lawmaker, who was elected to the House in 2016, served as Biden’s presidential national campaign co-chair in 2020.
Carper said that Blunt Rochester indicated to him on Monday prior to his announcement that she planned to run for his Senate seat.
“I said, “You’ve been patient, waiting for me to get out of the way … and I hope you run and I hope you’ll let me support you,” Carper said at an event in Wilmington, recounting their conversation. “And she said, ‘Yes, I’ll let you support me.’”
It’s possible that Democrats elect multiple Black women to the Senate next year in addition to Blunt Rochester. County executive Angela Alsobrooks recently announced a Senate bid in Maryland, and Rep. Barbara Lee is vying in a crowded primary race in California. Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas), another African American rising star in the Democratic Party, is hoping to oust Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas.
Democrats are still awaiting word on reelection plans from Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) ― announcements that will determine their odds of holding the Senate majority next year in what looks like a very good map for Republicans.
Earlier this month, 79-year-old Maryland Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin announced he won’t be seeking another term in office, kicking off a crowded Democratic primary to replace him.
Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) doesn’t appear to be showing any signs of bowing to pressure to step down ahead of her planned retirement at the end of 2024. The 89-year-old longtime California senator returned to work this month despite experiencing broader undisclosed complications from shingles, ignoring questions about calls for her resignation.