Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, one of the Senate's most powerful voices on health care legislation, said Saturday he won't seek re-election next year.
Harkin told Associated Press "I just think it's time for me to step aside."
The decision is somewhat of a surprise. Harkin chairs the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and has been instrumental in shaping and authoring several key legislative measures, including the 2010 health care overhaul and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The 73-year-old five term incumbent already has a sizeable campaign fund. "I'm not saying that giving this up and walking away is easy. It's very tough," Harkin told AP. "But I'm not quitting today. I'm not passing the torch sitting down."
To read more from the AP interview: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_HARKIN_IOWA?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-01-26-10-41-54