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Republican Sen. Dan Coats to retire, won’t run in 2016

WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Dan Coats of Indiana announced Tuesday that he would retire at the end of his term rather than seek re-election in 2016.

“This was not an easy decision,” Coats, 71, said in a statement. “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, going on to serve as ambassador to Germany under George W. Bush. He was elected to his second full term in 2010.

Coats is a solid conservative who focused on budgetary and fiscal issues in the Senate. His 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.