Republican Sen. Coats to Retire, Won't Run in 2016

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican Sen. Dan Coats of Indiana announced his retirement Tuesday, opening up a Senate seat in a GOP-friendly state that could attract a roster of Republican hopefuls.

"This was not an easy decision," Coats, 71, said in a statement announcing that he would step down at the end of his term rather than seek re-election in 2016. "While I believe I am well-positioned to run a successful campaign for another six-year term, I have concluded that the time has come to pass this demanding job to the next generation of leaders."

Coats is serving his second full term in the Senate. He was first appointed to the Senate in 1988, replacing Dan Quayle when Quayle was tapped as the GOP vice-presidential nominee. He was elected to his first full term in 1992 but retired in 1998, honoring a term-limits pledge and going on to serve as ambassador to Germany under George W. Bush. He was elected to his second full term in 2010, after Democrat Evan Bayh retired.

Coats is a solid conservative who focused on budgetary and fiscal issues in the Senate. But he's occasionally broken with fellow party members, becoming one of just a handful of Republicans who refused to sign on to a controversial open letter to the leaders of Iran earlier this month aimed at undercutting Obama administration attempts to reach a nuclear deal with that country.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that Coats' series of titles, beginning as a House member, "tell only a part of what this kind and humble Hoosier has been able to achieve. Washington is going to miss Senator Coats' expertise on economic and national security issues, and I'm going to miss his wise counsel and trusted friendship here in the Senate."

Coats' announcement opens the way for what could be a lively GOP primary to replace him, with several House members and the mayor of Indianapolis among the potential candidates. Republicans would be strongly favored to hang onto the seat.

Coats becomes the third senator to announce plans to retire rather than seek re-election. The others are Democrats Barbara Boxer of California and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland. 

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