Democratic Senator Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) announced today that he will not run for reelection, making him the 15th Democrat to retire at the end of the year. On the Republican side, 18 members of Congress are not running for reelection.
Massa, a first term congressman, made ending “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” a key component of his congressional run. He was also a key Democrat to vote against the Stupak-Pitts anti-choice amendment added to healthcare reform in the House this year.
According to CQ Politics, Massa, who recovered from what was thought to be terminal cancer, is experiencing a recurrence of the disease. Politico, on the other hand, reports that allegations of sexual harassment have been made against Massa by a male staffer, to which Massa said, “When someone makes a decision to leave Congress, everybody says everything. I have health issues. I’ll talk about it [later].” He also told a colleague: “You’ll be hearing things that are untrue.”
Massa’s district is considered to be one of the more conservative districts in the state of New York, and he was already a target for Republicans before this retirement was announced.
Updated – Rep. Massa’s office has released the following statement:
This last December I underwent my third major cancer recurrence scare. I kept this private only to members of my immediate family. I did not tell my staff. It was a very intense and personal experience especially in light of having gone through this before. I am a direct, salty guy who runs at 100 mph and my doctors have now clearly told me that I can no longer do that. It is only fair and right that I announce that I will not run again in time for others to consider a run for this office. I will now enter a final phase of my life at a more controlled pace and remained fully committed to helping the families of the 29th District.
There are blogs that are saying that I am leaving because of charges of harassing my staff. Do I and have I used salty language? Yes, and I have tried to do better. But these blogs are a symptom of the problem in this city and I no longer have the life’s energy to fight every battle. I make this decision based on being a cancer survivor who, following the advice of my doctors in Washington and in New York, cannot and will not prevent others from serving in the Congress that I hold in such great esteem.