Sen. Tom Carper announces retirement

Four-term senator will not seek re-election in 2024
May 22, 2023

Accolades for U.S. Sen. Tom Carper’s years of service flew quickly following his retirement announcement May 22.

Flanked by his wife Martha in Wilmington, Carper announced that he will not seek re-election in 2024.

“As last year came to a close and the new one began, Martha and I began to focus on what I should do next. If I ran for a fifth term in the Senate and won, it would be a record 15 statewide elections,” he said in a statement following the riverfront event. “After a good deal of prayer and introspection, and more than a few heart-to-heart conversations, we’ve decided we should run through the tape over the next 20 months and finish the important work that my staff and I have begun on a wide range of fronts, many of them begun in partnership with Democrat and Republican colleagues in the Senate and in the House.”

Carper was elected U.S. senator in 2000, beating Republican incumbent Sen. William Roth. The West Virginia native moved to Delaware in 1973 while pursuing a master’s degree at University of Delaware, and soon after embarked on a career in public service. 

In 1976, at the age of 29, he was elected to the first of three terms as state treasurer, and in 1982, he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served five terms. In 1993, he was elected governor of Delaware and served for two terms, before seeking the U.S. Senate seat.

Carper’s tenure as governor led to eight balanced budgets – with tax cuts in seven of those eight years – record growth in employment, and a reduction in state debt, all of which led to Delaware earning AAA credit ratings for the first time in the state’s history. During his second term as governor, he was selected to serve as vice chair, then as chair of the National Governors’ Association.

Fellow U.S. Sen. Chris Coons expressed gratitude to Carper and his wife for their friendship and service over the years.

“Tom Carper has also mentored a generation of Delaware leaders. From my first race for county council president, he has encouraged and supported my career in service, acting as a source of advice and encouragement when I needed it most, and as a role model for balancing family and service,” Coons wrote in a statement. “I look forward to serving together for the remainder of this Congress and to supporting my colleague as he decides on the next chapter in life’s adventure.”

Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester said she remembers interning for then-Congressman Carper.

“It was his service that helped inspire a journey I could have hardly imagined, as I would go on to serve as his staffer, cabinet member and, eventually, colleague in the United States Congress,” she said.

Gov. John Carney also said he worked for Carper early on in his career.

“Sen. Carper is an institution in our state – and a servant leader who has always put the interests of Delaware families first. He has been a tireless advocate for Delaware. And in a time of increasing divisiveness, Sen. Carper continues to work across the aisle to find common ground and get things done,” Carney said.

Carper said it has been a privilege to serve the people of Delaware.

“Some 59 years have passed since I first raised my right hand as a 17-year-old Navy ROTC midshipman and took an oath to defend our country and its Constitution. I never imagined then that I would take the oath again and again as a naval flight officer and P-3 aircraft mission commander in an active-duty and reserve career that would span some 23 years before I retired with the rank of captain. Today, I am the last Vietnam veteran serving in the United States Senate,” he said.


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