The news just broke; North Dakota’s long-serving Democratic-NPL senator Kent Conrad is retiring after 2012:
President Obama said in a statement that he was “saddened” about the news of Conrad’s retirement but added: “I look forward to working with him during the next two years on the important issues facing our country.”
Conrad, who currently chairs the Senate Budget Committee, has been in office since 1986 and risen to become one of the most influential — and intellectual — policy makers operating in the nation’s capital.
Conrad had been open about his ambivalence about running for another term and had taken several actions in recent months that suggested he was leaning against running again.
Conrad turned down a chance to chair the Senate Agriculture Committee — an industry of huge import in North Dakota — to stay on at the helm of the Budget committee and supported the debt commission report, a decision that would have almost certainly put him in political hot water in the context of a political campaign.
And with that, North Dakota’s trifecta of Congressmen, which two years ago was pound-for-pound among the most powerful threesomes in Washington – Conrad, plus Byron Dorgan, who retired last year and Earl Pomeroy, who was soundly thrashed last November – leaves the stage after a combined total of something close to eighty years in Congress, leaving traditionally-conservative North Dakota with a decent shot of being represented by…conservatives.