Senator Tim Johnson Said Expected to Bow Out of 2014 Race

U.S. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson is expected to announce today that he will become the fifth Democrat in the chamber to retire after the 2014 election, a Senate Democratic aide said.

Johnson’s retirement after the 2014 election would lead to a reshuffling of the committee chairman’s position if the Democrats retain control of the Senate. Four other Democratic senators and two Republicans have said they won’t seek re-election next year.

Johnson, who suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2006 and was re-elected two years later, has scheduled a news conference today at the University of South Dakota in Sioux Falls. Spokesman Perry Plumart said the senator would announce his plans for the 2014 election.

Senate Democrats expect that Johnson, 66, will announce that he won’t seek a fourth term, said the Democratic aide, who requested anonymity before the formal announcement.

Johnson’s retirement would further complicate the Democrats’ ability to defend their control of the Senate next year. With a 55-45 majority, Democrats must defend 21 seats, including seven in states such as South Dakota that were carried by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election.

Senate Democrats Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, which was carried by Romney, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Carl Levin of Michigan and Tom Harkin of Iowa have announced they won’t run for re-election next year.

Medical Problems

Johnson has suffered a series of major medical problems, including prostate cancer and the brain hemorrhage, which impaired his speech.

He survived a couple of close electoral battles in his Republican-leaning home state. In 2008, still recovering from the brain hemorrhage, Johnson waged a re-election battle aided by fundraising and campaigning by his Democratic Senate colleagues, and won a 25 percentage-point victory over state Representative Joel Dykstra.

The non-partisan Cook Political Report had rated Johnson’s re-election chances a toss-up. Former South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds has announced that he will seek the Republican nomination for Johnson’s Senate seat. The state has voted Republican in every presidential race since 1940, save for the 1964 election won by Lyndon Johnson.

If Democrats keep their Senate majority in 2014, Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed is next in seniority to succeed Johnson as chairman of the banking panel.

Committee Assignments

Reed, a retired U.S. Army officer and graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, may opt instead to succeed Levin as chairman of the Armed Services Committee. New York Senator Charles Schumer would be next in line to become chairman of the banking panel.

Two Republican senators, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Mike Johanns of Nebraska, have said they won’t seek another term in next year’s election.

Republicans are defending a total of 14 seats, and only one -- in Maine -- is in a state that Romney lost. In the Maine race, three-term Senator Susan Collins is favored for re-election.

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