WASHINGTON — Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., who is in his first term, announced Monday that he will not seek re-election next year, the fifth lawmaker to bow out of a Senate that has become increasingly polarized and dysfunctional.
Johanns, a soft-spoken former Nebraska governor and secretary of agriculture in the George W. Bush administration, appeared well positioned to be re-elected and was not on any Democratic target list. But last year, he angrily criticized conservative groups that tried to step in and influence the Senate election in his state. And his efforts as part of the ‘‘Gang of Eight’’ to broker a bipartisan deficit reduction accord proved fruitless.
‘‘With everything in life, there is a time and a season. At the end of this term, we will have been in public service over 32 years,’’ Johanns wrote in a letter to his constituents with his wife, Stephanie. ‘‘Between the two of us, we have been on the ballot for primary and general elections 16 times and we have served in eight offices. It is time to close this chapter of our lives.’’
With his announcement, Johanns joined Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa; Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.; John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va.; and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., in heading for the exits. With former Sen. John Kerry’s move to secretary of state, the rash of retirements will hasten a wholesale makeover of a Senate that was once far more stable.
‘’Words are inadequate to fully express our appreciation for the friendship and support you have given us over the past three decades,’’ the Johannses wrote.