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Rep. Steve Austria to Retire

Updated: 8:22 p.m.

Rep. Steve Austria (R-Ohio) announced today he is retiring.

Austria is in his second term in Congress. But because of Ohio’s new district map, Austria was set to face fellow Republican Rep. Michael Turner in a tough Member-vs.-Member race in the redrawn southwestern Ohio 10th Congressional district. Ohio lost a seat in redistricting for the 2012 elections.

In a written statement from his campaign, Austria expressed “anger and frustration” with the new lines that essentially eliminated his district in its current form.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed working on behalf of every one of my communities, both large and small, and regret that I will not be able to continue the work I have been truly committed to, due to the redrawing of the maps,” Austria said.

In what seemed to be a parting shot at his own party, Austria described Ohio redistricting as “done in secrecy and with closed door deals.” State Republicans controlled the redistricting process, and Roll Call has previously reported that national Republicans — including Austria’s fellow Ohioan, Speaker John Boehner — were heavily involved in redistricting as well.

Austria went on to describe a reluctance to engage in a “multi-million dollar negative primary battle” that “would have further divided the region and hurt Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.”

While GOP sources had previously told Roll Call that there was no love lost between Austria and Turner, Turner was quick to issue a statement praising Austria.

“I’d like to be one of the first to thank Steve for his service to Ohio and our country,” Turner said. He went on to describe Austria as “an honorable man.”

Boehner issued a late-night statement lauding Austria’s service and lamenting that the Buckeye State was hit so hard by reapportionment.

The Speaker said he considers the retiring Republican “a friend, a leader, and an advocate for Ohio families and small businesses.”

“I know this was a very difficult decision for Steve with so much still to be done to get our economy back on track; no one is happy to see Ohio losing two members of Congress,” Boehner said. “I hope to work with Congressman Austria to get to know Clark County over the next year, and if re-elected, will strive to represent its people in the same fine manner that Steve has.”

Turner slightly edged out Austria in the third-quarter fundraising reports. Turner had raised $422,000 versus Austria’s $412,000. Austria won re-election in 2010 with 62 percent of the vote.

The Ohio candidate filing deadline was today. Besides the Austria announcement, there were no major surprises in who officially filed. The Ohio primary will be March 6.

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