Glenn to Go

February 21, 1997

Glenn to Go

From CongressDaily

Ending a week of speculation, Sen. John Glenn, D-Ohio, confirmed this afternoon he will not seek a fifth term next year.

Toward the end of a speech during which he bemoaned the "cynical barrage of self-doubt" present in current society and decried "the selfish, self-absorbed political wolves" constantly attacking the institutions of government, Glenn told an audience largely comprised of college undergraduates, "My impulse is not to quit, but to stay and fight for the kind of future Ohio and America needs and deserves."

But he added that, nothwithstanding the medical advances during his lifetime, "There is one immutable fact that remains -- there is still no cure for the common birthday." Noting he would be 83 at the end of a fifth term in the Senate, Glenn said, "For that reason and that reason alone, I have decided I will not be a candidate ... in 1998."

The timing and location of Glenn's announcement reflected both history and nostalgia: He disclosed his decision at his alma mater, Muskingum College, located in his hometown of New Concord, Ohio. And his declaration came 35 years to the day after he became the first American to orbit the earth.

Glenn is the second sitting senator to decide not to run again, joining Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind. Glenn's announcement is bad news for Democratic prospects of gaining ground in the Senate next year: National Democrats had been lobbying Glenn, 75, to run again, believing he was the only Democrat who could hold the seat in the face of a challenge from popular Ohio GOP Gov. George Voinovich.

Glenn gained a reputation as an expert on civil service and federal management issues on Capitol Hill, and chaired the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee from 1986-94. He is currently that panel's ranking member. Next in line for the ranking slot on Governmental Affairs is Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., but he is currently ranking on Armed Services. Behind Levin is Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn.

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