MEMPHIS, FEB. 10 -- Rep. Ed Jones (D-Tenn.) said today that after 19 years in Congress he will not seek reelection, leading to speculation on who might replace the 75-year-old farmers' advocate and "dean of Democrats."

"My friends, I hope I will be remembered for the fight that I have made for the family farmer," Jones said at a press conference at Memphis State University.

"Twenty years of service is a long time. It is not easy to let go," said Jones, who said he wants to spend more time with his wife.

Rep. Harold E. Ford (D-Tenn.) said he was "shocked" to hear of Jones' retirement plans, calling him "the dean of Democrats" and an unparalleled champion of farmers.

Jones was elected to the 8th Congressional District 19 years ago today.

He is the third-ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, chairman of its subcommittee on conservation, credit and rural development, and third-ranking member of the Committee on House Administration.

Jones said he will continue to "dabble in politics," and that he is keenly interested in who will take his place this year. "Just because I'm retiring doesn't mean that I'm dead," he said.