SALT LAKE CITY — Republican Sen. Jake Garn, who flew aboard a space shuttle and became one of NASA's staunchest champions, said Wednesday that he will retire from politics next year to spend more time with his family.
Flanked by his wife, Kathleen, six of seven children and eight of 10 grandchildren, a tearful Garn said he would not seek a fourth term in 1992.
"The No. 1 reason I'm not running you see on either side of me," he said at the state Capitol. "While Sen. Jake Garn would like to run again . . . Jake Garn, husband and father, won the battle."
Garn, 58, has adhered to a conservative agenda during more than 16 years in the Senate, opposing big government and supporting a strong defense.
As chairman of the Senate Banking Committee for six years during the Ronald Reagan Administration, he was a fervent proponent of deregulating the banking and savings and loan industries.
Garn said he also supports a term limitation for congressmen. He co-sponsored legislation that would have mandated fixed terms.
Republicans expressed confidence that they could hold Garn's Utah seat in the Senate as they try to break the Democrats' 57-43 majority in the 1992 election.
As chairman of the subcommittee overseeing National Aeronautics and Space Administration spending, Garn became the first U.S. senator in space, aboard the shuttle Discovery.
During the weeklong mission in April, 1985, the former Navy pilot served as a "payload specialist," a human guinea pig subjected to tests measuring effects of weightlessness, especially motion sickness.
Upon his return, Garn acknowledged that he was ill for the first two days of the mission, earning him the "Doonesbury" nickname of "Barfing Jake." The journey also generated a novel, "Night Launch," that Garn co-wrote.