BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Surprising shakeup. Senator Barbara Mikulski announces she will not seek reelection.
Pat Warren was with Senator Mikulski when made this important announcement.
It caught most by surprise–Senator Mikulski announcing that she is retiring after careful consideration.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski sends a political shockwave through Maryland.
“I will not be seeking a sixth term in the United States Senate,” she said.
Mikulski told reporters reaching that decision was not easy.
“I had to decide how would I spend my time–fighting for my job or fighting for their job? Do I spend my time raising money or do I spend my time raising hell?” she said.
If you know Barbara Mikulski, you know she’s a Highlandtown girl, the daughter of immigrants, working her little earrings off because there is no “I” in Team Maryland.
“Service, for me, is about solving problems, helping my constituents,” Mikulski said. “And never, ever putting their needs on the back burner.”
A lot of folks get schooled on the Senate floor.
“We’re on the same page. We’re on the same guide-path. We don’t have to have showdowns here,” Mikulski said.
And marshaled on the campaign trail.
“You got the right moves, you got the right grooves, so let’s get it going boys and girls,” Mikulski said while campaigning for Anthony Brown in the 2014 gubernatorial race.
In 2012, she was honored as the longest serving woman in Congress. She was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1976 and has served in the Senate since 1987.
“There’s been no job too big or too small,” she said. “For me, it’s not any one accomplishment, it’s been the accomplishments and the joy of listening to the people.”
Ten years in the House, five terms in the Senate.
Warren: “To the people who have been so loyal to you over the years as to what you’ll be doing now so that they don’t think that they’re not going to see you again?”
Mikulski: “I’m going to be around. I’m Senator Barb.”
And she’s still in the game.
“I want to thank the people of Maryland for the trust that they’ve given me,” she said. “Though I’m turning a new page, make no mistake: we’re not writing the last chapter.”
Senator Mikulski says she gave it careful consideration and determined the people of Maryland would be better served if she focused her attention on them instead of another political campaign for herself.
“I want to give 120 percent of my time focused on my constituents. It’s never been about me; it’s always been about them. I want to spend the next two years focused on how I can help Maryland,” she said.
Her retirement could set off a race among potential candidates to succeed her, including Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards, and former Govs. Martin O’Malley, who is considering a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, and Bob Ehrlich.
In a 2014 interview, Mikulski said her approach as chair of the Appropriations panel was “to focus with civility and courtesy. Old school values. Don’t do surprises or stunts and negotiate directly and not through the press.”
Lawmakers around the country discussed Mikulski’s legacy.
Sen. Ben Cardin said although he respects Mikulski’s decision to not run for reelection, he’ll miss her in Senate.
“I look at today as an opportunity to celebrate a remarkable person,” said Cardin. “This is bittersweet for me. We’re partners and we have this working relationship that I think has benefited the people of Maryland and the United States.”
Cardin said Mikulski’s announcement was not anticipated, but that there’s a great pool of talent that could run for Mikulski’s seat.
“Most of us did not anticipate this announcement so there will be more discussion on this in the coming months,” Cardin said.
Even President Barack Obama chimed in, “Senator Mikulski is more than just a legendary senator for the people of Maryland, she’s an institution in the United States Senate. Barbara’s service to the people of Maryland spans decades, but her legacy will span generations. Barbara is the longest serving woman in Congress, and her leadership serves as an inspiration to millions of women and girls across the globe to stand up and lead.”