Senator Jim Jeffords to Retire

Jim Jeffords, who abandoned the Republican Party mere months after being re-elected under their banner in 2000, has announced he is not running for re-election in 2006.

Senator Jeffords Is Expected to Retire

Senator James M. Jeffords, the independent Vermonter whose defection from the Republican Party in the spring of 2001 gave control of the Senate to the Democrats for 18 months, has reportedly decided not to seek re-election next year. Mr. Jeffords planned to make an announcement this afternoon in Burlington, Vt., The Associated Press reported.

If Mr. Jeffords retires at the end of his third term, intriguing political possibilities would arise. It would not be surprising, for instance, if Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor whose presidential campaign soared early and flamed out almost as suddenly, decided to try for Mr. Jeffords’s seat. Mr. Dean is now the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

The Republicans have 55 seats in the Senate, to 44 for the Democrats. Then there is Mr. Jeffords, who caucuses with the Democrats and whose departure from the Republican fold triggered an upheaval in May 2001.

U.S. Sen. James Jeffords, citing health, will not seek re-election (AP)

Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords, an independent who triggered one of the most dramatic upheavals in Senate history when he quit the GOP four years ago, announced Wednesday he would retire at the end of his term next year, citing his and his wife’s health. Jeffords, 70, had been adamant in saying he would seek re-election, but he reversed himself. “After much thought and consultation with my family and staff, I have decided to close this chapter of my service to Vermont and not seek re-election in 2006,” Jeffords said in a news conference at a suburban Burlington hotel.

Jeffords has suffered from a bad back and neck for years and has seemed confused by some of the questions in several recent news interviews. But it was his wife’s health that he highlighted in his remarks. “Liz, as you know, is battling cancer and will soon have to undergo another round of chemotherapy,” he said, but added that he has had his own health concerns. “There have been questions about my health and that is a factor, as well,” he said. “I am feeling the aches and pains when you reach 70. My memory fails me on occasion, but Liz would probably argue this has been going on for the last 50 years.”

Interesting. I haven’t seen the polling in Vermont but I can’t imagine too many Republicans are pleased with his betrayal in 2001. A man with no party has little chance in American electoral politics. While I have nothing for contempt for the slimeball Jeffords, I wish his wife well in her battle with cancer.

hat tip to Red at Scared Monkeys, who has more.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Harry says:

    Why is it that when a Republican switches parties it’s a “betrayal”, but when a Democrat does it the Republicans proclaim them as great patriots?

  2. Kent says:

    For the same reasons that when a Democrat switches parties, the Democrats consider it a “betrayal,” but when a Republican does it the Democrats proclaim him as a great patriot.

    Was that so hard?

  3. GunTrash says:

    Yeah, I posted something similiar at another blog. I wasn’t as upset with Jumping Jim as some were.

    You have to expect that in politics. We got Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Billy Tauzin, Richard Shelby, etc. It happens. When it does, either whine about it or celebrate it, deal with it, then put it behind you and get on with the program.