Report: Democrat Delahunt to retire

Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) will not seek reelection in the fall, the Boston Globe reported Thursday evening.

Delahunt had been considering retirement for some time and publicly voiced his deliberations last month. The seventh-term congressman said that he is not retiring because of political concerns, but wants to spend more time with his family:

"It's got nothing to do with politics," the Quincy Democrat said today. "Life is about change. I think it's healthy. It's time."

The 68-year-old lawmaker said he has been considering leaving the House for several years, but was talked out of it two years ago by the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who convinced his friend he should stay and help President Obama with his first-term agenda.

"He said, 'Come on -- this is a new time. It's a new era. We [will] have a new president. We're all needed," Delahunt recalled Kennedy telling him. Once Kennedy died last year, Delahunt said he grappled with whether to stay and work on the issues Kennedy held dear.

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"Clearly, since his death, there's something missing. There's a void. With the void, you feel the need to be here because there's much to do," Delahunt said wistfully in an exclusive interview.

But the congressman said he concluded that after nearly four decades in public service, the grueling House schedule was taking its toll on his personal life.

Several political matters, though, have recently affected Delahunt. His district is traditionally Democratic, but it gave Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) his largest margin of victory in the January special election to replace the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.

Delahunt also came under scrutiny after a professor named Amy Bishop was arrested in Alabama for murder last month. As district attorney in 1986, Delahunt had not brought charges against Bishop after she shot her brother to death in what was deemed an accident.

The congressman said both concerns did not affect his decision not to seek reelection.

Delahunt's retirement is the 17th for House Democrats this cycle, as opposed to 19 for Republicans.

Joseph P. Kennedy III, the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, was reported last week to be considering a bid for Delahunt's seat should he retire. But Kennedy took himself out of the race this week.

Republicans blamed Delahunt's retirement on a spate of ethics problems for House Democrats this week, as well as Brown's victory.

"Given the week Democrats have had, it should come as no surprise that the toxic political environment has swallowed up another one of their own," National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Ken Spain said in a statement. "Between the controversies surrounding a multitude of Democrats in Congress and Sen. Scott Brown's stunning upset victory in January, it is understandable that Congressman Delahunt wasn't up to making his case to the voters."

This post was updated at 9:19 p.m.