“Inspired by a new generation of leaders, I have decided to pass the torch to the US Senate,” he said in a statement Thursday morning. “I am announcing today that I will not seek re-election and will leave the US Senate at the end of my term on January 3, 2025.”

Stabenow is the first battleground-state Democrat to announce that she will not seek another term, and she is the first of several party officials to make a long-awaited announcement about her pledges. Democrats face a challenging Senate map in 2024, with heated races in several red states and undecided incumbents in Sens. joe manchin (DW.Va.) and john tester (D-Mont.). Schumer has not yet announced who will chair the Senate Democratic campaign this cycle.

Michigan has proven fertile ground for Democrats over the past few elections as the party took the governor’s office, the state legislature and defended its Senate seats. Still, an open seat there is becoming one of the Republican’s top pickup opportunities in 2024.

Mike Berg, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said his party would “aggressively target this seat in 2024. This could be the first of many Senate Democrats who decide to retire rather than lose.”

In the currently leaderless Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, spokesman David Bergstein said that because of the party’s recent successes “we are confident that Democrats will hold this Senate seat in 2024.”

Stabenow’s decision will also accelerate a changing of the guard in the Democratic leadership. Sen patty murray (D-Wash.) has just stepped down from the party’s top leadership, relegating Stabenov to the No. 3 spot in the hierarchy and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Min.) By No. 4.

Rumors have swirled about Stabenow’s future in recent months amid an exodus of Senate farm workers under the Michigan Democrat. Only a handful of people on Capitol Hill were aware of his plans Thursday morning, as word spread even among a band of his former staffers that have now spread across Washington.

Now there will be an opening in the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, a plum perch that comes with additional staff and a higher profile. Schumer, in particular, once occupied the leadership spot, leaving Stabenow.

Currently Dean of the Michigan delegation, Stabenow rose from the Statehouse to the US House and eventually entered the Senate in 2001, defeating Republican incumbent Spencer Abraham.

She is widely seen as effective at negotiating deals by both sides and getting her way on Capitol Hill. This is especially true of the Farm Bill, a massive piece of legislation that includes hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending on rural communities and the agriculture sector. Stabenow, a veteran of wild farm-bill negotiations, has had a major role in shaping the legislation even as a minority member.

Stebeno will serve out the remaining two years of her term leading the committee. Sen Michael Bennett (D-Colo.) is likely to be next in line to handle the Agriculture Committee’s gavel, though Klobuchar and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.) may seek a role in this Congress on shuffling the functions of his committee.

In her statement Thursday, Stabenow said she will “focus intensely on continuing this important work to improve the lives of Michiganders,” including leading the next farm bill, which is due out this year. .

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