U.S. Senator for Kansas Pat Roberts retiring after nearly 4 decades of service

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Senator Pat Roberts announced he will not seek re-election to the U.S. Senate Friday morning.

After 23 years in the Senate and 16 in the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill, the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee said his fourth term will be his last. The D.C. veteran is at a press conference in Manhattan at the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s headquarters, where he made the “special announcement.”

The announcement comes on the heels of Congress approving the bipartisan 2018 farm bill, authored by Roberts. He is known alongside his colleague from Kansas, Senator Jerry Moran, for endeavors to help state industries. The former Marine was also a strong advocate for the military and its installations in Kansas.

Previously, Roberts had not ruled out another run for the Senate, while working on the farm bill. A fifth term would have kept him in office through his 90th birthday.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would become the longest serving member of congress in this state’s history,” Roberts said.

Roberts faced pressure to step aside in part because he would have been 84 when facing voters. He also faced grueling primary and general election contests in 2014.

Roberts began his Capitol Hill career as an aide in 1967. He won a U.S. House seat representing western Kansas in 1980 and was elected to the Senate in 1996. But his longevity became a liability during his 2014 campaign.

Roberts made the Friday announcement just weeks after helping negotiate the final terms of a massive farm bill. He’s chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

The Kansas Democratic Party in a statement Friday said that while the Democrats had differences with Roberts on many substantive issues, the party thanked Roberts for years of dedicated service to the state. 

Ethan Corson, Executive Director of the Kansas Democratic Party said “Kansas Democrats are well-positioned to win what will be an open U.S. Senate seat in 2020.”

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