The Associated Press
TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas Republican Sam Brownback announced Thursday that he will not seek a third, six-year term in the Senate, saying he owed it to the state’s residents to keep his word and retire more than keeping seniority in the chamber.
“This is something that I need to do,” he said during a news conference at the Statehouse. “I would lose a lot more and the people of Kansas would lose a lot more if I broke my word.”
Brownback was elected to the Senate in 1996 to fill the unexpired term of Sen. Bob Dole who resigned to be the GOP nominee for president. After that election, he said he would seek no more than two full, six-year terms, which he won in 1998 and 2004.
“I love doing this,” Brownback said Thursday. “Your word is your bond. Once you give it, you stand by it.”
It is widely expected that Brownback, 52, will return to Kansas and run for governor in 2010. However, Brownback declined to say Thursday what he would be doing after his term ended.
Christian Morgan, executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, praised Brownback for his leadership and character.
“Whether defending those who cannot defend themselves, fighting for fiscal discipline in Washington or fighting for the people in Darfur, Senator Brownback is a model to all looking to fill his shoes in the U.S. Senate,” Morgan said.
Brownback ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, dropping out early in the race and supporting eventual nominee John McCain. Brownback is known for his conservative credentials, including his opposition to abortion and support of limiting government spending.
Democrats hold the majority in the Senate with at least 57 seats to 41 Republicans. Two Independents also align themselves with Democrats. The Minnesota Senate race is still to be decided.
Reps. Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt, both Kansas Republicans, have expressed interest in giving up their House seats and running for Brownback’s Senate seat in 2010. Sebelius has been mentioned as a possible Democratic challenger.
Brownback said both Moran and Tiahrt are good people and would serve the state well, though he also said he expects a lot of interest in the Senate seat. Morgan predicted the race to fill Brownback’s seat would be competitive.
Sen. Pat Roberts, also a Republican, was re-elected in November to Kansas’ other Senate seat.
Brownback said the next two years would be difficult as Congress acts to pull the country out of recession, while simultaneously fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He said he was focused on completing the Air Force’s process of selecting the next generation of air refueling tankers, which could mean jobs for Wichita should Boeing Co., win the bid.
In addition, Brownback wants to secure the funding for construction of the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility awarded this month to Kansas, a $450 million project potentially worth billions to the state economy.
Brownback said he would continue to fight any effort to close the detainee facility at Guantanamo Bay and bring some 250 suspected terrorists to the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth. Brownback has introduced a bill that would prohibit the use of any federal funds to move the detainees.
“It’s a mission that it wasn’t designed for,” he said.
The Associated Press
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