Caper, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, has served in the Senate since 2001. He won his first election in politics in 1976, becoming state treasurer in Delaware. He later served in the US House and as the governor of Delaware.
He pledged to “run through the tape” during the remainder of his Senate term, which ends in January 2025, including assisting with the implementation of climate provisions in the landmark Inflation Reduction Act.
Carper’s decision to retire opens the door for an expected primary bid for Blunt Rochester, the state’s sole representative in Congress and both the first woman and first black man to hold the office.
Carper told reporters that he spoke with Blunt Rochester early Monday. “I said, ‘You’re patient, waiting for me to get out of the way,’ and I’m going to get out of the way,” Capper said.
He said that he had told Blunt Rochester that he hoped she would run and that he hoped she would welcome his endorsement.
“She said, ‘Yeah, I’ll let you support me,'” Capper said.
Blunt Rochester recently indicated she is interested in the seat.
“Should the opportunity present itself, I’m in,” he said this month at an event organized by Punchbowl News.
Following Carper’s announcement, Blunt Rochester tweeted a photo of her and the senator but made no mention of his intentions.
She wrote, “No one has put in more miles than Tom Carper.” No one worked harder for Delaware than Tom Carper. Thanks, TC.
No one has put in more miles inside than Tom Carper.
No one has worked harder for Delaware than Tom Carper.
Thanks, TC ❤️ pic.twitter.com/G2wAJjwEpg
— Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (@RepLBR) May 22, 2023
Blunt Rochester won re-election last year with more than 55 percent of the vote and would be well positioned for a Senate primary facing the same statewide electorate. Every statewide official in Delaware is a Democrat.
Only two black women – Democrats Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois and Kamala D. Harris of California – have served in the US Senate. There is no black woman in the chamber in this Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) spoke with Blunt Rochester by phone shortly after Carper’s announcement, according to his office.
“He told her that he believes she could be a really good senator and that he looks forward to sitting down with her soon,” Schumer’s office said in a statement.
The 2024 Senate race in Delaware is not high on the target list for Republicans nationally as they seek to win back control of the chamber during a cycle in which Democrats are defending several more potential targets for flipping seats.
Caper, the only Vietnam War veteran serving in the Senate, has developed a reputation as a consensus-builder during his more than two decades as a senator. He has focused heavily on his committee work and counts legislation to raise fuel efficiency standards and reduce diesel emissions among his accomplishments.
At his news conference, Caper described his work on the committee as “a labor of love that I will always cherish”.
In recent weeks, Capper played a role in discussions on permitting reforms for energy projects, a subject that has been a major concern of the country. debt ceiling,
After announcing his retirement, Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) called Caper “a steady, important leader who has shaped Delaware for decades.” He added: “During his more than 50 years of service to our state and nation, he never stopped focusing on economic development, and despite his substantial achievements in the Senate, he never stopped thinking as governor.” Didn’t – Focused on getting things done across the aisle, solving complex problems, and making a lasting difference.
President Biden praised her work on several committees, including helping pass two presidential signature measures, the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Act.
“Over the years, Tom and I often boarded the train together, going to Washington early in the morning, and back to Wilmington late at night,” Biden said in a White House statement. “I have personally seen his tireless dedication to the people of Delaware.”
Schumer called Capper “a conscientious, hard-working, honorable and effective senator who has done much for his beloved Delaware and for America, especially protecting our precious environment and strengthening our transportation systems.”
“So many important pieces of legislation, from postal reform to reducing the toxic effects of methane in our atmosphere, would not have happened without Tom’s hard work and persistence,” Schumer said in his statement.