Tim Johnson

Term limits would take care of this.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota plans to retire at the end of his term, Democratic officials said Monday _ a departure that gives Republicans a prime opportunity to pick up a seat as they attempt to win back control of the chamber in 2014.

Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2006 and later returned to the Senate and won re-election in 2008 while sometimes using a motorized scooter.

The officials who described Johnson’s plans spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to pre-empt a formal announcement expected Tuesday in South Dakota.

Johnson, 66, is the fifth Democrat to decide to step aside at the end of the term in 2014, joining Carl Levin of Michigan, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey. Two Republicans also have said they plan to retire, and the GOP must gain six seats to win a majority.

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