U.S. Senator Bob Graham has announced he will not seek re-election to a fourth term. The announcement could make it easier for Republicans to keep control of the U.S. Senate.
Bob Graham announced his decision at the Florida state capitol in Tallahassee, where he began his career in public service more than three decades ago. "I am here today to announce that I will not be a candidate for election to a fourth term in the United States Senate," he said.
Last month, Mr. Graham withdrew from the democratic presidential race, saying he had been hurt by a late start and an inability to raise the large sums of money necessary to run a presidential campaign.
Mr. Graham is a popular politician in Florida, and the five Democrats seeking his Senate seat had all said they would drop out of the race, if he chose to seek re-election. So far, four Republicans have declared they will run for his seat.
Stephen Craig, a professor of political science at the University of Florida, said Republicans probably have an advantage over Democrats. There are those who feel that Graham would have had a more difficult time winning re-election this time than in the past. But I think it is fairly clear that the Democrats were better off with Graham than without him. I do not think they need to concede this race. But I do think it is going to be a bit of an uphill struggle for them now," he said.
Mr. Graham is the fourth southern Democratic senator to announce plans to retire at the end of next year, joining colleagues from the states of South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina.
Currently, Republicans hold a 51-to-48-seat majority in the Senate, and Mr. Graham's decision could help Republicans pick up more seats in the 2004 election.