He pledged to “run through the tape” during the remainder of his term, including helping with the implementation of climate provisions in the landmark Inflation Reduction Act.
Carper, the 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 U.S. House and as Delaware’s governor.
Carper’s decision to retire opens the door in the heavily Democratic state for an expected primary bid for Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, the state’s sole representative in Congress and both the first woman and first Black person to hold the office.
“Should the opportunity present itself, I’m in,” Blunt Rochester said earlier this month at an event hosted by Punchbowl News.
Blunt Rochester won reelection last year with more than 55 percent of the vote and would be well-positioned for a Senate primary facing the same statewide electorate. Only two Black women — Democrat Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois and Kamala D. Harris of California — have served in the U.S. Senate. There are no Black women in the chamber in this Congress.
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 probably targets for flipping seats.
Carper, the sole Vietnam War veteran serving in the Senate, has developed a reputation as a consensus builder during his more than two decades in the Senate.
He has focused heavily on his committee work and counts among his achievements legislation to raise fuel efficiency standards and reduce diesel emissions.
During his news conference, Carper described his work on the committee as “a labor of love that I will always cherish.”
In recent weeks, Carper played a role in discussions over permitting reform for energy projects, a subject that has become wrapped into negotiations over raising the nation’s debt ceiling.