Sen. James Exon (D-Neb.) announced that he would not seek a fourth term in 1996, throwing a little sand on Democratic hopes to retake the Senate. Republicans now hold a 54-46 majority. Exon, who first won the seat in 1978, cited "the ever-increasing vicious polarization of the electorate" as a major reason for his departure. Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.), who chairs the national Republican senatorial committee, said winning Exon's seat would be a GOP priority. D'Amato's Democratic counterpart, Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, now has to comb his largely Republican state for a replacement. Says TIME congressional correspondent Karen Tumulty: "It's just one more headache the Democrats don't need."