Gramm Announces He Won't Seek Re-Election

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:28 PM EDT

( - With great emotion, Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) announced Tuesday he will not seek re-election next year for his seat. He was first elected to the Senate in 1984 after serving several terms in the House, first as a Democrat before switching to the GOP.

"After a long and difficult period, in fact, the hardest decision I have ever made in public life, I have decided to announce today that I will not seek re-election to the United States Senate. At the end of this term, I will end my period of public service," Gramm said in an emotional statement on Capitol Hill.

"I have spent two-thirds of my adult life in service to Texas and America, and I've loved absolutely every minute of it," he said.

Gramm said the things he came to Washington to do are done. He was first elected to the House in 1978, before resigning his seat to run as a Republican.

"Remarkably, the things I came to Washington to do are done. Now, I know that no victory is ever final. I know that all these battles will have to be fought again by other generations, and I know that there are new challenges that face America," Gramm said.

"But what better time to call it a career than when you finish the work that you were initially sent to Washington to do," he said.

Gramm is confident that when he leaves the Senate next year, his seat will remain in Republican hands.

"Today, Republicans dominate Texas politics. We hold every statewide office and I can announce today that I'm leaving the Senate with absolute confidence that the person who takes my place will share my philosophy and my values," he said.

"But, of greater importance," Gramm added, "that they will be a Republican who shares the philosophy and values of working men and women in Texas." He would not make any endorsements on a successor.

Gramm intends to remain in the Senate until the end of his term in January 2003. He would not comment on any future job plans.

Gramm's advice for the GOP: cut income taxes again.

"I think maybe it's time to do it again. I think we ought to cut the capital gains tax rate. It would put revenues in the coffers for the next two years, and it would stimulate the economy. This absurd criticism the Democrats are making that somehow it's the president's fault that the economy is down just won't bear up under scrutiny," he said.

Gramm wasn't the only Republican lawmaker announcing his retirement on Tuesday. Over on the House side, longtime California Republican Congressman Steve Horn announced that he too will retire at the end of his term next year.

"The redistricting process has created major changes in the areas constituting the 38th District. In order to remove any doubt about my plans, I want to formally announce that I will be retiring from Congress at the end of this term in January 2003," Horn said in a statement on Capitol Hill.

"It is also a particularly fitting time to step down at the end of this term because virtually every goal I supported in 1992 for the nation and for the district has been achieved," he said.

"Nationally, I am proud to be a part of the team that had the courage to balance the budget, pay down hundreds of billions in public debt, strengthen Social Security and Medicare, improve education, and reduce crime," Horn said.

"It is my hope that three other major priorities, a patients' bill of rights, a Medicare prescription drug benefit, and campaign finance reform, will finally be passed by the current Congress," he added.

"My reason for making this announcement now is to give my dedicated staff, in Washington and the district, ample time to consider the key educational and employment decisions they need to make for their future," Horn said. "I want to thank all the fine staff members who have served over the years.

"Our team has established an unparalleled reputation for outstanding constituent service, and, until the end of the term in January 2003, we will continue to provide that same high level of service as well as to focus on the completion of our legislative projects," he said.

Horn was first elected to the House in 1992. He represented the Long Beach area of California. Before entering politics, he was president of the California State University at Long Beach.