Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan will not seek re-election in 2024 after serving more than 30 years in Congress.
She announced plans to “pass the torch” to a “new generation of leaders” at the end of her current term, which expires on 3 January 2025.
The 72-year-old senator served in the US House of Representatives from 1997 to 2001. She was elected to represent the Great Lakes State in the Senate in 2000, 2006, 2012 and 2018.
“Under the cloud of unprecedented threats to our democracy and our basic freedoms, a record-breaking number of people voted last year in Michigan. Young people showed up like never before. This was a very hopeful sign for our future,” she said in a statement on Thursday.
Her retirement opens a Senate race in a closely watched battleground state, currently represented by Democratic senators Stabenow and Gary Peters, where Donald Trump lost by roughly three percentage points to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
Michigan was also one of two states, along with Arizona, where Republican candidates who amplified the former president’s baseless narrative of election fraud in that year’s election were running for all three top statewide offices, including governor, secretary of state and attorney general. All were defeated.
Senator Stabenow, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, says she will focus on passing the sweeping Farm Bill within her final two years in office, securing billions of dollars in support for the nation’s agriculture.
“I am intensely focused on continuing this important work to improve the lives of Michiganders,” she said in a statement. “This includes leading the passage of the next five-year Farm Bill which determines our nation’s food and agriculture policies.”
Democrats will battle to defend 23 Senate seats in the 2024 election, including one held by newly independent Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, while other senators are potentially mulling their retirement as the party hopes to cling to its already-slim majority in the upper chamber of Congress.
Politcal pundits have speculated that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg – the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana – could enter the race for the opening Senate seat, after he moved to Michigan in the wake of his unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential race.
Other potential candidates floated by speculative political analysts include recently re-elected Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel, all of whom defeated election denying candidates in 2022 and made national waves with their well-publicised defense against antidemocratic candidates and legislation.