Massachusetts Rep. William Delahunt has decided not to run for re-election.
The seven-term Democrat told the Boston Globe that his decision had nothing to do with politics. He said he had been considering leaving for several years but was talked out of it by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, who urged him to help pass President Obama's first-term agenda.
"Life is about change," Delahunt told the Globe. "I think it's healthy. It's time."
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass, praised Delahunt's service to Massachusetts.
"This departure leaves a void because Bill Delahunt is an incredibly strong voice for Massachusetts in Washington," Kerry said in a statement reacting to Delahunt's retirement.
Delahunt has come under fire in Massachusetts recently for his handling of a 1986 shooting by Amy Bishop, a University of Alabama professor accused of killing three colleagues this year. At the time of the 1986 shooting, Delahunt was the local district attorney and he accepted the findings of the local and state police that Bishop's shooting of her brother was accidental.
Delahunt's retirement creates a rare open congressional seat in Massachusetts. All of the House members from Massachusetts are Democrats.
The decision to step down by Delahunt comes amid a string of recent retirements in the House, including Rhode Island congressman Patrick Kennedy, who will not seek re-election.
Delahunt, 68, has served in Congress since 1997, but Massachusetts and the political world were stunned in January when a little-known Republican state senator, Scott Brown, upset Democrat Martha Coakley to win the Senate seat held by nearly a half-century by Kennedy.
Delahunt was facing potential challenges from Republicans who have been heartened by Brown's victory in the Democrat-dominated state. Brown won Delahunt's district, which includes Cape Cod and the South Shore area.
Brown's victory inspired several local Republicans, including former state Treasurer Joe Malone and state Rep. Jeffrey Perry of Sandwich, to say they are considering running for Delahunt's seat.
Joseph P. Kennedy III, 29, one of the twin sons of former Rep. Joseph Kennedy II and the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, said Sunday he had decided against running Delahunt's seat because he wants to remain in his new job as a prosecutor in Cape Cod's Barnstable County. Kennedy had been weighing a race if Delahunt were to decide against seeking re-election.
Norfolk District Attorney William Keating, a Democrat investigating the handling of the 1986 Bishop shooting, is said to be weighing a run were Delahunt to decide against seeking re-election, as are several state legislators.
Delahunt, a liberal voice, was a key player on Coast Guard issues in Congress. He also was active on foreign relations, including Latin American issues. He helped broker a deal to bring discounted oil to the U.S. from Venezuela.
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