Rep. Buyer Announces Retirement

Posted January 29, 2010 at 9:52am

Updated: 12:11 p.m.

Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) announced Friday that he will not seek re-election this year because his wife is ill.

Buyer, the top-ranking Republican on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said at a tearful news conference in Indianapolis that he is forgoing a bid for a 10th term to spend more time with his wife, who he said has an “incurable autoimmune disease.—

Buyer, 51, also said he would retire Aug. 1 from the Army Reserve, ending three decades of military service with the rank of colonel. He served in the Persian Gulf War and targeted then-Rep. Jim Jontz (D) for defeat shortly after returning.

“While we’re sad to see him go, we understand his desire to be with his wife through her illness,— said Murray Clark, the chairman of the Indiana Republican Party. “We thank Steve for his service to our state, and wish him all the best in the future.—

Buyer has faced questions about the operations of his scholarship foundation, which has raised money from donors with business before the Energy and Commerce Committee, on which Buyer sits. Buyer has said he has asked for guidance from the House ethics committee.

He represents the 4th district, a strongly Republican-leaning area of west-central Indiana that the GOP is expected to hold. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) took 56 percent of the district vote in the 2008 presidential election, even as Barack Obama became the first Democratic White House candidate to win the state since 1964.

Potential Republican candidates for Buyer’s seat include Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita, who is currently weighing a challenge to Sen. Evan Bayh (D), and state Sen. Brandt Hershman, who also serves as Buyer’s district director. Rokita would begin the race with higher name recognition, while Hershman presumably would run with the Congressman’s support.

Speaking at the news conference after Buyer left, Hershman praised the Congressman’s work on veterans and transportation policy and his style as someone who “has never been afraid to speak his mind.—

David Sanders (D), who lost decisively to Buyer in the 2004 and 2006 elections, is making a third bid for the seat, though other Democratic candidates may emerge.

Prospective candidates must decide quickly if they want to run. A Feb. 19 candidate filing deadline applies to the May 4 primary election.