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LaHood to Retire After Seven Terms

Veteran centrist Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) will announce this morning that he will not seek an eighth term in the House next year.

Lahood, who won re-election with 67 percent of the vote last year, planned to announce his retirement at news conferences in Peoria, Springfield and Jacksonville.

“Since that first election almost 13 years ago, I have always maintained that this was not a lifetime job,” LaHood, 61, said in a statement released by his office. “The time has come to honor that commitment.”

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) said in a statement Friday morning that LaHood’s “deep respect for the traditions and procedures of the U.S. House, along with his noble record of public service, has earned him respect on both sides of the aisle” and expressed confidence that LaHood’s 18th district “is a Republican stronghold and will remain in the red column.”

Though in a state that has trended toward Democrats in recent years, the 18th leans to the GOP. President Bush won the district with 58 percent of the vote in his 2004 re-election race.

Prior to his 1994 election to Congress, Lahood served as chief of staff to former Minority Leader Bob Michel, a moderate Republican from Illinois. LaHood was one of only three Republicans in the historic class of 1994 who refused to sign the “Contract with America,” although he proved to be a generally reliable vote for the House GOP leadership. In fact, Republican leaders often installed LaHood, a master of parliamentary procedure, as presiding officer of the House when a particularly difficult piece of legislation was moving on the floor.

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