WASHINGTON – Senator Debbie Stabenow, Michigan’s senior Democratic senator and a member of the party leadership, announced Thursday that she will not seek a fifth term next year.

The statement by Ms Stabenow, 72, made her the first Democrat to say she would not be on the ballot in 2024 and opened a battleground state, giving her party another seat to defend when Democrats already Were ready to challenge the officials. In Republican-leaning states like Ohio, Montana and West Virginia. But Democrats made a strong showing in Michigan in November and expressed confidence of quickly capturing the seat.

Ms. Stabenow, the Agriculture Committee chair who was first elected in 2000, said she looks forward to continuing to serve the state outside of elected office.

“Inspired by a new generation of leaders, I have decided to pass the torch to the US Senate,” Ms Stabenow, Michigan’s first female senator, said in a statement.

“Under a cloud of unprecedented threats to our democracy and our basic freedoms, people voted in record-breaking numbers in Michigan last year,” she said. “Young people showed up like never before. It was a very hopeful sign for our future.”

The Republican promised to mount a strong campaign for the seat.

“We’re going to be aggressively targeting this seat in 2024,” Mike Berg, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said in a statement. “This could be the first of many Democrats who decide to retire rather than lose.”

The Democrats have not yet chosen the head of their Senate reelection campaign. It was led the past two years by Senator Gary Peters, a Democrat from Michigan, who has said he is not interested in seeking reelection after overseeing a one-seat expansion of the majority.

Ms Stabenow was first elected to local office in 1974 at the age of 24. He served in the state legislature and the US House before winning his Senate seat in 2000 by defeating Republican incumbent Spencer Abraham. In the Senate, she is known to be an effective and hardworking legislator who will oversee an effort to renew key farm laws for the next two years.

Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat and majority leader, said, “No one embodies the true spirit of Michigan more than Debbie Stabenow.” “From the state legislature to the House of Representatives, and for the past two decades in the United States Senate, Debbie has made a difference for Michiganders every step of the way.”

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