Tom Carper Opts Not to Make Reelection Bid
WILMINGTON, Del. — Longtime Democratic Sen. Tom Carper announced Monday that he will not seek reelection in 2024, capping a 20-year career in the U.S. Senate.
“If there’s ever an opportune time to step aside and pass the torch to the next generation … it will be here on Jan. 3, 2025, at noon,” Carper said during a news conference in his hometown of Wilmington on Monday morning.
He attributed his decision to “A good deal of prayer and introspect and more than a few heart-to-heart conversations,” but said he had every intention of “running through the tape” and “finishing the important work that my staff and I have begun on a wide range of fronts.”
A native of Beckley, West Virginia, Carper graduated from Ohio State University and promptly joined the U.S. Navy, in which he served as a naval flight officer from 1968 until 1973, seeing active duty in the Vietnam War.
In fact, he is currently the only veteran of the Vietnam War in the Senate.
After leaving active duty, he remained in the U.S. Naval Reserve for another 18 years, rising to the rank of captain by the time he retired.
After receiving his MBA from the University of Delaware, Carper worked in the state of Delaware’s economic development office, and was later elected state treasurer.
From there he made the jump to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served five terms, making a name for himself as a moderate, pro-business Democrat, before “returning” to Delaware full time to run for governor.
His successful bid was the result of a “swap” in which he arranged to seek the office of the term-limited Mike Castle and Castle would run for Carper’s seat in the House.
Carper was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000, and went on to be reelected by landslides in 2006, 2012 and 2018.
Carper is the fourth Democratic senator to announce he will not seek reelection this cycle. The others are Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Ben Cardin, D-Md.
He currently serves as chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and he previously chaired the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
The favorite to replace Carper in the Senate is Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., whom the incumbent told reporters he has been encouraging to run.
“I spoke with her this morning and I said you’ve been patiently waiting for me to get out of the way, and I’m gonna get out of the way, and I hope you run, and I hope you will let me support you and support you in that mission,” he said.