Longtime Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) announced Monday, as he celebrated his 81st birthday, that he will not seek a 17th term in the House next year.
Hyde’s retirement decision came as little surprise on Capitol Hill and back in his suburban Chicago 6th district, where jockeying to replace him has been under way for months.
State Sen. Peter Roskam (R) appears to be the early frontrunner in the race to succeed Hyde. Information technology consultant Christine Cegelis (D), who lost to Hyde by 11 points in 2004, is preparing to run again.
Hyde’s health has declined in recent years and he will be forced to relinquish his International Relations gavel at the end of the 109th Congress.
First elected to the House in 1974, Hyde announced his retirement in a statement on his Web site.
“I am grateful for the many friends who have supported me through the years,” he said.
Hyde previously chaired the Judiciary Committee and rose to national prominence when he served as chief House manager of the Clinton impeachment proceedings.