April 20, 2005:
Jeffords was elected to the Senate 3 times, and to the House 7 times, as a Republican.
Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont, whose decision in 2001 to leave the Republican Party and become an independent handed the Democrats the majority in the Senate, announces he will not seek re-election next year.
Jeffords, a liberal, had been one of the last of the so-called "Rockefeller Republicans" from New England. But his unhappiness with President Bush and the conservative direction of the party led him to quit the GOP on May 24, 2001. That shifted the numbers in the Senate from 50-50 (a GOP majority thanks to the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Cheney) to 51-49 Democratic.
The Dems held the majority only until the 2002 elections.
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