Jim Cooper on 2020, 2022 and more

Jim Cooper

Longtime U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville) announced Tuesday he would retire at the end of his term.

Cooper, who has spent 32 years in Congress, including 20 representing the Nashville-based 5th Congressional District, cited redistricting as a reason for retiring.

Republicans in the state legislature decided to split Democratic-leaning Nashville into three congressional districts, turning Cooper’s district from a reliably Democratic seat to a likely Republican one.

“I explored every possible way, including lawsuits, to stop the gerrymandering and to win one of the three new congressional districts that now divide Nashville,” Cooper said. “There’s no way, at least for me in this election cycle, but there may be a path for other worthy candidates.”

Cooper had been facing a spirited Democratic primary challenge from Justice Democrats-backed Odessa Kelly. Kelly, who under the redistricting plan now lives in a different district, has not said in which district she plans to run.

Cooper comes from a long line of Tennessee leaders, including his father, the late former Gov. Prentice Cooper, and his brother, current Nashville Mayor John Cooper.

He said in a statement he was "ready to get another job next year and make up for lost time with family and friends."

Cooper, a Harvard Law School graduate, was first elected to Congress from the 4th Congressional District in 1982, when he was 28 years old. He ran for U.S. Senate in 1994 but lost to Republican Fred Thompson. He returned to politics with a 2002 victory in the 5th Congressional District, which he has represented since.