By Agri-Pulse Staff
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 18 – North Dakota Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad plans to serve out his term and not seek reelection to the United States Senate in 2012.
"After months of consideration, I have decided not to seek reelection in 2012. There are serious challenges facing our State and nation, like a $14 trillion debt and America's dependence on foreign oil. It is more important I spend my time and energy trying to solve these problems than to be distracted by a campaign for reelection.
"These next two years in office will be critical. My top priorities will be to:
· Get our country on a sound fiscal course;
· Reduce America's dependence on foreign energy;
· Craft a new Farm Bill;
· Advance permanent flood control for the Red River Valley and;
· Address the disaster in the Devils Lake Basin.
"I deeply appreciate the extraordinary support I have received over the years from the people of North Dakota. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity they have given me. It has been an honor to serve as their United States Senator for the past 24 years. Working together, we've helped build a strong foundation for North Dakota's future,” Conrad said in a statement.
"I also want to thank my family, friends, and staff for years of support. I especially want to thank my wife Lucy and our family — our daughter Jessie, our son Ivan and his wife Kendra, and our grandson Carter — for their constant encouragement. I appreciate all the sacrifices they have made over the years.
"I also want to thank two of my best friends, Senator Byron Dorgan and Congressman Earl Pomeroy. It was my good fortune to serve in Congress with Byron and Earl for 18 years. We worked hard to produce results for our state and our country. It is an experience I will never forget.
"Although I will not seek reelection, the work is not done. I will continue to do my level best for both North Dakota and the nation over the final two years of my term."
Conrad, who currently chairs the Senate Budget Committee, has been in office since 1986 and is considered one of the most influential forces in writing farm policy. But he has already been facing statewide radio ads challenging his re-election.
In January, the American Future Fund launched a statewide radio ad in North Dakota entitled “1986.” The ad says: “That was the year Kent Conrad first ran for the US Senate and promised he would resign if he was unable to help reduce the budget deficit. That was twenty-five years ago and our deficits are higher than ever.”
Sen. Byron Dorgan retired last year rather than face a tough challenge from Republican Gov. John Hoeven. Rep. Earl Pomeroy was defeated by Rick Berg.
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