Veteran Democratic Sen. Ernest Hollings of South Carolina announced
plans Monday to retire at the end of his current term and will not seek re-election
Hollings is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee and
one of the lead sponsors of legislation that would reinstate the 35% cap on one
company's TV-household reach.
Noting the loss of an ally on that issue, National Association of
Broadcasters president Eddie Fritts said he was saddened by the news. "Fritz Hollings is a
Capitol Hill legend with unquestioned integrity and a fierce independence that
has served his country and his South Carolina constituents exceedingly well.
He's been a friend to free, local broadcasting for 35 years," he said.
The six-term senator's retirement gives Republicans a second strong
opportunity to pick up a Southern seat in their bid to maintain control of the
Senate in 2004.
Several Republicans have already begun campaigning for the seat. Hollings
would be the third senator to retire in 2004, according to the Associated
Sens. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.) and Zell Miller (D-Ga.) have
already announced plans not to run for new terms.
Decisions by Hollings and Miller not to run complicate Democrats' strategy
for holding on to all of their 48 seats and gaining enough seats elsewhere to
regain control of the Senate.
Also, Sens. John Edwards (D-N.C.) and Bob Graham (D-Fla.), are
both seeking the Democratic presidential nomination and have not yet said
whether they will run for new Senate terms.