Domenici: Brain disease leads to retirement

By The Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE — U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, New Mexico’s most dominant Republican voice and longest-serving senator, announced Thursday that he is retiring at the end of his sixth term because of a degenerative brain disease.

“I come here today, to the site of the school that I attended as a boy, to tell you that I will not run for re-election to the United States Senate,” Domenici said at a news conference in the Albuquerque neighborhood where he grew up.

After a medical exam last month revealed progression of an incurable brain disorder known as frontotemporal lobar degeneration, or FLTD, the 75-year-old senator discussed retirement with his family and concluded that he might not physically be able to serve a full seventh term.

“The progress of this disease is apparently erratic and unpredictable. It may well be that seven years from now, it will be stable,” Domenici said. “On the other hand, it may also be that the disease will have incapacitated me. That’s possible.”

“I am not willing to take a chance that the people who have so honored me with their trust for 40 years might not be served as well as they deserve in the United States Senate.”

Domenici said he is confident that he will be able to serve out his current term, which expires in January 2009.