Mike Enzi announces he'll retire from Senate after 2020

Sen. Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziPoll: Majority of independent voters want GOP to retain control of Senate in 2020 Here are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 Liz Cheney and Rand Paul extend war of words MORE (R-Wyo.) announced Saturday that he will retire from the Senate at the end of his current term, capping off a 22-year career in Washington.

Enzi, 75, who currently serves as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, made the announcement while speaking at city hall in Gillette, Wyo., where he once served as mayor.

"I have much to get done in the next year and a half," he said in prepared remarks released by his office.

"I want to be able to focus on budget reform to get control of our national debt," he said. "I don’t want to be burdened with the distractions of a campaign. After this term I will find other ways to serve."

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Enzi was first elected to the Senate in 1996 and most recently won reelection in 2014.

An outspoken fiscal conservative, Enzi has been vocal about the country’s fiscal crisis and was a leading proponent of the GOP tax cut plan that passed in 2017.

Before serving as chairman of the Budget Committee, he headed the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, a panel on which he is still a member.

Enzi on Saturday touted his record in Washington, including achieving mine safety changes and pension protections while also joining the fight against the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

“Most of my bills have 15 or less votes in opposition, which is considered very bipartisan,” he said.

Fellow Wyoming Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoTo stave off a recession, let's pass a transportation infrastructure bill Overnight Defense: GOP wary of action on Iran | Pence says US 'locked and loaded' to defend allies | Iran's leader rules out talks with US GOP senator: Iran is behind attack on Saudi Arabia MORE (R) praised his colleague in a statement, saying Enzi's "character, courage and credibility have made him a respected moral leader in the U.S. Senate."

"In four terms in the Senate he has never wavered in his commitment to God, family or Wyoming," Barrasso said. "The Senate and Wyoming will miss the valued leadership of the trusted trail boss of our congressional delegation."

Before coming to Washington, Enzi served for 10 years in the Wyoming state legislature in both the state House and state Senate. He was also the mayor of Gillette for two terms.

Enzi’s retirement creates Wyoming’s first Senate vacancy in over a decade. The Republican field to replace him could be expansive in a state that reelected Enzi by a more than 50-point margin in 2014 and backed President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocratic senator rips Trump's 'let them fight' remarks: 'Enough is enough' Warren warns Facebook may help reelect Trump 'and profit off of it' Trump touts Turkey cease-fire: 'Sometimes you have to let them fight' MORE by more than 45 points in 2016.

Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyRepublicans seek to delay effort to censure Schiff after Cummings' death House Foreign Affairs leaders introduce Turkey sanctions bill Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle mourn Cummings MORE (Wyo.), currently the third-ranking House Republican, could run, though it would mean leaving her lofty perch in the lower chamber. And a power struggle among House GOP leadership could open a path for her to run for Speaker should the GOP retake the House next year.

Dave Dodson, who unsuccessfully challenged Barrasso in 2018, could mount another Senate bid. Superintendent of Public Education Jillian Balow has also been floated as a possible candidate.

Cheney issued a lengthy statement Saturday praising Enzi following news of his retirement, saying the longtime senator "never forgot where he came from and always put the interests of Wyoming first, constantly championing our Western way of life."

"I’m privileged to have had the opportunity to work alongside him for the people of Wyoming and am proud to call him a friend," she said.