Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Tom Carper Will Retire

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) has been in politics for nearly half a century, from his first election win as state treasurer of Delaware at age 29 to his current job as a U.S. Senator at age 76. He's currently in the midst of his fourth term in the upper chamber. And he has decided that's enough for him; yesterday he announced that he will step down when his term ends in Jan. 2025.

Delaware is a very blue state (at D+7, it's behind only 8 states in terms of blueness). It hasn't elected a Republican to the Senate since 1994. Every one of its current statewide officeholders is a Democrat. So, there is no plausible argument that this state is "in play," even if it's an open seat. And if it somehow does end up "in play," then the Democrats have way bigger problems than Delaware.

The "feeder" for Delaware senators, for many years, has been the state's sole seat in the House of Representatives. It looks like the establishment is lining up behind Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), who used to work for Carper and will presumably have his endorsement. The other viable possibility is Gov. John Carney (D-DE), who occupied the House seat before Blunt Rochester did. Blunt Rochester is 6 years younger (61 vs. 67) and is Black and a woman, so she's likely to be the default choice for Democratic officeholders who do not already have a pre-existing relationship with Carney. As a reminder, there have been a grand total of two Black woman senators in U.S. history (Carol Moseley Braun and Kamala Harris) and there are currently zero.

There are four ways to leave the Senate: die, resign, run for reelection and lose, or decline to run for reelection. Over the years, roughly 13.6% of senators have exited in the latter fashion. Meanwhile, the average senatorial term is just a bit shy of 12 years. So, in any given cycle, we'd expect about 6.8% of the members to stand down voluntarily. The Democratic caucus has four retirees from 51 members so far (Carper; Ben Cardin, MD; Dianne Feinstein, CA; Debbie Stabenow, MI); that's about 7.8%. So, they are a little above average, but not much. The outlier, such as it is, is the lack of Republican retirements, of which there is only one so far (Mike Braun, IN). Neither of these tallies (4 D, 1 R) is likely to change much, as we're getting pretty close to the "fish or cut bait" part of the calendar. (Z)

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