Rep. Walsh Will Retire

Posted January 24, 2008 at 2:04pm

Another House Republican moderate is headed for the exits. Rep. Jim Walsh (R-N.Y.) announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of his term. “After nearly 20 years in Washington and over 30 years of public service to my community, the time has come for me to step away from elective office,” the 60-year-old Congressman said in a letter to his constituents. Walsh, a 10-term veteran who had his toughest re-election contest ever in 2006, faced a rematch this year with former Capitol Hill aide Dan Maffei (D), who came within 2 points of winning in the previous cycle. Walsh’s departure increases the likelihood that Democrats will pick up his seat. The Syracuse-based 25th district is just one of eight in the country that voted for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in the 2004 White House election but is represented by a Republican in Congress. While it is not clear whom the Republicans will run in the 25th district, Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks and Onondaga District Attorney William Fitzpatrick are seen as possibilities. Maffei, who worked on the Hill for the House Ways and Means Committee and for then-Sens. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.) and Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.), may now have company in the Democratic primary, including Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll. Driscoll, a friend of Maffei’s — Maffei served as the campaign manager for his 2005 re-election — has told associates in the past that he would consider running for the House seat if it became open. Other potential Democratic candidates include former professional football player Tim Green and state Sen. Dave Valesky. Walsh becomes the 20th House Republican to announce his departure this cycle — not including those who are running for other offices or have died during the 110th Congress. He joins several key GOP moderates on the sidelines, including Reps. Mike Ferguson (N.J.), Ray LaHood (Ill.), Deborah Pryce (Ohio), Jim Ramstad (Minn.), Jim Saxton (N.J.) and Jerry Weller (Ill.). Walsh is a veteran appropriator, the lone Empire State Republican on the powerful committee. — Josh Kurtz