Sen. Dale Bumpers said Saturday he has grown increasingly frustrated with the Republican-controlled Senate and will not run for a fifth term from President Clinton’s home state next year.
The popular 71-year-old Democrat, who was hospitalized briefly last year for blocked coronary arteries, wiped away tears and choked on his words while making his announcement, which stunned some supporters.
“My frustration level has increased exponentially since I went to the Senate,” Bumpers said.
“Many bills are crafted to achieve maximum political benefit and nothing else.”
“It’s not much fun being a minority,” Bumpers said.
He criticized the Republican-controlled Congress, saying new members had become fanatic about amending the Constitution, which he bitterly opposes.
“The Constitution is a sacred document,” he said. “Some of my colleagues think the Constitution is just a rough draft.”
Bumpers is the third Democrat to announce his departure, joining Sens. John Glenn of Ohio and Wendell Ford of Kentucky. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., also is retiring. Republicans hold a 55-45 majority in the Senate, and must defend 16 seats in the 1998 election, while the Democrats have 18 to try to hold.