Democratic Iowa Senator Tom Harkin has announced that he will not seek re-election at the end of his term. Harkin, who is 73, told the Associated Press in an interview that he intends to retire.

“It’s just time to step aside,” he said, noting that at the end of his next term, should he seek re-election, he would be 81. The veteran lawmaker said that it is time to make room for a new generation of Democrats seeking higher office.

The announcement comes as a surprise to some. The AP reported that Harkin has a war chest of $2.7 million and a fund-raiser planned for February.

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