Former Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina on Wednesday declared that she won’t seek the Senate again next year, denying her party what many viewed was their best shot in a race against incumbent Republican Richard Burr.
“After careful deliberation, I have decided that my role going forward is as a citizen of our great state and not as an elected U.S. senator,” Hagan said in a statement.
Hagan’s formal decision now opens the door for other challengers to prepare for the 2016 race. There’s not been a clear-cut second choice for a contest that – if Hagan ran – had the potential to become one of the marquee races next year and pivotal battles for control. While it’s still only 2015, an Elon University poll last month showed Hagan within one point of Burr.
Hagan didn’t disclose her reasons or future plans, and declined to be interviewed on Wednesday. She issued a statement instead that looked back on her time in the Senate. She served from 2009 to 2014.
“During my six years in the U.S. Senate, we tackled some of our country’s greatest challenges: pulling ourselves out of a major economic crisis, passing key parts of my...jobs bill that put people back to work, getting closure and justice for victims of contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, passing a health care bill that expands insurance for millions, and working to ensure equality for all Americans,” she said.
Without naming anyone, she said there were many potential candidates who could challenge Burr for the seat.
North Carolina State Treasurer Janet Cowell, who had been mentioned as a possible candidate, quickly issued a statement Wednesday knocking down any talk of a possible run.
“I am flattered to be mentioned as a potential candidate for the U.S. Senate,” Cowell said. “However, I am focused on my job and committed to running for re-election as treasurer in North Carolina.”
State Sen. Dan Blue, also mentioned as a possibility, said in a brief interview: “I haven’t given it any serious thought.”
“It becomes all consuming,” he said.”There are things other than running for office that are important.”
Blue, the state Senate Democratic leader, said he is focused on electing more Democrats to the Senate.
Democrats are also interested in Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, University of North Carolina President Tom Ross, state Sen. Josh Stein and even former Rep. Heath Shuler, who left office in 2012 after three terms.