> Wednesday, October 03, 2007
> Republican Senator To Retire at the End of Term
> By Andrew Taylor/
> Associated Press
> WASHINGTON Republican Sen. Pete Domenici of New
> Mexico intends to
> retire at the end of his term next year, closing out
> a 36-year career in
> Congress, Republican officials said Wednesday.
> These officials said the 75-year-old Domenici
> intends to make
> a formal announcement on Thursday in his home state.
> They spoke on
> condition of anonymity to avoid pre-empting the
> six-term lawmaker.
> Domenici would be the fifth Republican senator
> to decline to
> seek a new term, giving Democrats an opportunity to
> expand their
> majority in the 2008 elections. GOP Sens. John
> Warner of Virginia, Chuck
> Hagel of Nebraska, Larry Craig of Idaho and Wayne
> Allard of Colorado
> have previously announced plans not to run again.
> The New Mexico Republican had earlier signaled a
> desire to run
> for re-election, despite coming under criticism this
> year over his role
> in urging the administration to fire U.S. Attorney
> David Iglesias.
> A Domenici adviser said the prospect of a
> difficult race in what is expected to be a difficult
> year for
> Republicans was not why Domenici decided to retire.
> Instead, lingering
> concerns about his health are the main reason for
> his decision.
> Domenici's long Senate career has been
> highlighted by
> involvement in budget issues. He was the longtime
> chairman of the Budget
> Committee dating back to President Reagan's first
> term. He is currently
> the top Republican on the Energy Committee.
> He was a principle architect of a 1997 balanced
> budget bill
> negotiated with former President Clinton, and has
> been a major player on
> national energy legislation, pushing for nuclear
> power and opening the
> Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.
> Domenici's health became an issue after he
> suffered nerve
> damage in his right arm while playing touch football
> with his
> grandchildren on Thanksgiving Day 1999. He underwent
> surgery in June
> 2000 to relieve pressure on nerves in his neck.
> But the pain persisted and in 2003 he was
> diagnosed with
> arthritis in his lower back. He began using a
> low-speed scooter between
> his office and the Capitol. But the scooter
> disappeared two years later
> after a new workout regimen and treatment by
> Tennessee arthritis
> Domenici came under investigation by the Senate
> Committee this year after a watchdog group accused
> him of trying to
> pressure David Iglesias, then the U.S. attorney in
> Albuquerque, N.M., to
> rush a corruption probe against Democrats to sway
> the 2006 elections.
> Iglesias says he believes he was dismissed from his
> job for resisting
> Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., who both
> say they did not
> pressure him.
> In March, Domenici called the controversy "hell"
> like he had
> never experienced in his career.
> Domenici was first elected to the Senate in the
> GOP landslide
> of 1972 when New Mexico was still a reliably
> Democratic state. He has
> never been seriously challenged since.
> The son of Italian immigrants, Domenici
> graduated in 1954 from
> the University of New Mexico, where he starred as a
> pitcher on the
> baseball team.
> He received his law degree from Denver
> University in 1958, and
> opened a law office in Albuquerque.
> His retirement is expected to spur a scramble
> among the
> state's top politicians who have long hoped to
> succeed him. Among them
> are Republican Reps. Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce
> and Rep. Tom Udall,
> a Democrat.
> "He's an iconic figure here in New Mexico," said
> Paul Kennedy,
> a former state supreme court justice and a longtime
> Republican. "He's
> probably the most popular politician in its history.
> He had a great run,
> and he'll be sorely missed from the delegation."
> Associated Press Writer Jennifer Talhelm contributed
> to this report.
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