PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) – U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon said Tuesday he will not launch a campaign for president and would instead focus on his own re-election and on helping elect other Democrats in the Senate.
In a video announcing his decision, Merkley said the country faces three major crisis at the same time: a climate crisis, a crisis of democracy from gerrymandering and voter suppression and an opportunity crisis with shriveling access to education, health care and good-paying jobs.
“We are way off track and the future of America hangs in the balance,” Merkley said in the video.
But he said he has more to offer by remaining in the Senate and helping other Democrats win seats than by running for president. Merkley is up for re-election in 2020, and Oregon law prohibits him from running for both offices simultaneously.
“To win these battles we need both strong leadership in the Oval Office and strong leadership in the Senate,” Merkley said. “Today, I am announcing that I am not running for president. I believe that there are Democrats now running in the presidential race who are speaking to the importance of tackling the big challenges we face.”
He added that in order to address the country’s problems, the Senate must transform its current role as the place “where good ideas go to die.”
“Right now, the Senate is not prepared to be a full partner in this fight,” Merkley said. “Right now, my best contribution is to run for re-election and do all I can to help the Senate be a full partner in addressing the challenges before us. To fix America, we must fix the Senate.”