Washington — Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan announced Thursday that she will not seek reelection next year, opening a Senate seat in a key battleground state as Democrats prepare to defend their majority in the upper chamber in 2024.
Stabenow, 72, said she will step down from the Senate after more than two decades in office. She said has been “inspired by a new generation of leaders” and decided to “pass the torch.” Her term concludes Jan. 3, 2025.
Stabenow was the first woman from Michigan elected to the Senate when she first won her seat in 2000.
“But I have always believed it’s not enough to be the ‘first’ unless there is a ‘second’ and a ‘third,'” she wrote in her statement.
Stabenow is currently the chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and a member of the Democratic leadership.
“For the next two years, I am intensely focused on continuing this important work to improve the lives of Michiganders,” she added. “This includes leading the passage of the next five-year Farm Bill which determines our nation’s food and agriculture policies.”
The departure is sure to invite a host of candidates from both parties vying to replace Stabenow, who holds one of 23 Democratic seats that will be on the ballot in 2024. Republicans will be defending just 10 seats.
Stabenow said she plans to spend more time with her 96-year-old mother and the rest of her family when she leaves office.
A Michigan Democrat close to members of the state’s congressional delegation called Stabenow’s announcement a surprise because as recently as a month ago, she was telling colleagues she planned to run for reelection. Rumors of her intentions swirled late last year, prompting her to assure fellow Democrats in Congress that she planned to run for another term.
But then today’s announcement came.
“None of us saw this coming,” the Democrat in the know told CBS News.
Stabenow’s campaign team was beginning to take shape, with plans to hire staff underway, the Democrat said.
Her decision frees up a Senate seat in a swing state that President Biden is set to make the cornerstone of his reelection campaign and that is home to a suite of ambitious Democrats who all have a proven track record of raising millions of dollars in campaign cash.