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Massachusetts Rep. William Delahunt is not running for re-election this year.
In a report by The Boston Globe, Delahunt is quoted as saying he has been considering leaving for several years but was talked out of it by the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who urged him to help pass President Obama's first-term agenda.
"Life is about change. I think it's healthy. It's time,” Delahunt told the Globe.
Philip Johnston, the former chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, spoke highly of the seven-term Quincy Democrat.
“Bill made the decision on a personal basis not to run for another term. He’s served very well in Congress for 14 years and he’s interested in doing something else at this point,” Johnston said.
Sen. John Kerry also praised Delahunt's service to Massachusetts in a statement to the Associated Press.
"This departure leaves a void because Bill Delahunt is an incredibly strong voice for Massachusetts in Washington," Kerry said in the statement.
The Thursday evening announcement by the 68-year-old did not catch all political watchers by surprise, however.
“It’s been known for a while that Delahunt was not happy being in Congress,” said WBUR political analyst Dan Payne.
Delahunt's retirement creates a rare open congressional seat in Massachusetts and the decision comes at a time when Democrats, who dominate the state's congressional delegation, are seen as vulnerable. Republican Scott Brown surprised the party with his election earlier this year to the seat previously held by Kennedy. Brown won Delahunt's district, which includes Cape Cod and the South Shore area.
“It’s going to be a challenging time for Democrats,” Johnston said.
Delahunt has come under fire in Massachusetts recently for his handling of a 1986 shooting by Amy Bishop, the former Braintree resident and 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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This program aired on March 4, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.
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