The longest-serving Democrat in the Senate, Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, told reporters Monday he will not seek re-election, making him the sixth senator to announce his retirement.

Leahy, who finishes his ninth term in the Senate next year, is 81. He was first elected to the Senate in 1974.

“It’s time to put down the gavel,” Leahy said, according to the Washington Post. “It is time to pass the torch to the next Vermonter to carry on this work for our great state. It’s time to come home.”

Leahy becomes the first Democratic senator to announce his retirement. Five others who recently announced are Republicans: Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Rob Portman of Ohio, Richard C. Shelby of Alabama and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania.

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The Vermont senator chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee and is third in the line of succession to the presidency as president pro tempore of the Senate, after the vice president and the Speaker of the House.

Leahy, who presided over former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, was briefly hospitalized in January.

A Batman fan, Leahy also carved a niche in pop culture, appearing in a cameo role in five Batman movies.

Potential contenders for Leahy’s seat include Vermont state Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint, Sen. Kesha Ram-Hinsdale and Lt. Gov. Molly Gray.

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