Oregon's Jeff Merkley announces he won't run for president, will seek Senate re-election

Sean Rossman
U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., speaks to the media along with U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, center, D-Md., U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., and U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., in front of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector's Centralized Processing Center in McAllen, Texas, on June 17, 2018.

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley announced Tuesday morning he won't seek a presidential run, saying he'll instead seek re-election to his Senate seat in 2020.

Merkley, 62, issued his decision in a four-minute YouTube video, in which he said America is "way off track" as well-paying jobs, affordable housing and quality education "keep getting further out of reach." 

"I believe that there are Democrats now in the presidential race who are speaking to the importance of tackling the big challenges we face," he said. 

Merkley, a Democrat, would have joined a growing field of candidates vying to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020. The list already includes Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, among others. 

As of late October, Merkley was seriously considering a presidential run. He made visits to early battleground states Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. 

In making his decision, Merkley said he talked to Americans "in every corner of our country," but ultimately decided to seek a third term in the Senate. Merkley served in the Oregon House of Representatives before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008. 

"We need both strong leadership in the Oval Office and strong leadership in the Senate," he said. "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."

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Contributing: The Associated Press