Sitting Tight in the Senate – News Feed – Fred Thompson seeks re-election – Brief Article
Gordon H. Smith
The decision by U.S. Rep. Fred Thompson (R-TN) to seek re-election in 2002 ensures one of the shortest lists of open seats in years. Three Republican senators whose seats are up have said they won’t run: South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond, North Carolina’s Jesse Helms and Texas’ Phil Gramm. Only once since the end of World War II have there been fewer retirees — two in 1964. There were three retirees in 1952, 1966, 1982 and 1990. In 1996-when the seats up next year were last voted upon — there were 13 retirements. If all the Democratic incumbents run for re-election, as expected, it would be only the third time that has happened in either party since World War II. There were no Democratic retirements in 1958 and 1990.
“The beginning for us keeping the majority in the U.S. Senate is making sure that all of our incumbents seek re-election,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Robert Gibbs, whose party has a razor-thin 50-49-1 edge over the GOP. Democrats appear to have lost a potential seat-takeover opportunity with Thompson’s decision to run. Democrats’ hopes for Senate gains also endured a setback when popular Oregon Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber announced he would not challenge GOP Sen.
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