- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 4, 2007


Republican Sen. Pete V. 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 yesterday.

The officials said Mr. Domenici, 75, intends to make a formal announcement today in his home state. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid pre-empting the six-term lawmaker.

Mr. 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. Republican Sens. John W. Warner of Virginia, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Larry E. Craig of Idaho and Wayne Allard of Colorado previously announced that they will not seek re-election.

Mr. Domenici earlier had 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 potentially difficult race in what is expected to be a tough year for Republicans was not why Mr. Domenici decided to retire. Instead, lingering concerns about his health are the main reason for his decision.

His 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 specialists.

Mr. Domenici’s retirement is expected to spur a scramble among the state’s top politicians, who have long hoped to succeed him. Among them are Rep. Heather A. Wilson, a Republican, and Rep. Tom Udall, a Democrat.

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