After 11 terms in Congress, Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger is calling it a career.
The Maryland Democrat announced his retirement on Friday in a video that highlighted some of his accomplishments during more than two decades on Capitol Hill.
Born Charles Albert Ruppersberger III, the former Baltimore County executive got the nickname Dutch when the doctor who delivered him described him as a “big, blond Dutchman.” Ruppersberger later adopted the nickname legally when he realized his last name was too long for a campaign bumper sticker.
In the retirement video, Ruppersberger, 77, said he was retiring to spend more time with his grandchildren, and maybe watching the NFL.
“Even after 21 years in Congress, I have never forgotten where I come from or who I work for. Because each and every day, I work for you,” he said at the end of his announcement. “Now, let’s go Ravens!”
Ruppersberger turned to politics after a near-fatal car crash in 1975 while he was investigating a drug trafficking case as a state prosecutor. In Congress, he’s been a champion for the kind of hospital that saved his life, the UMD Shock Trauma Center. After an unsuccessful state Senate bid in 1978, he was appointed to an open seat on the Baltimore County Council in 1985 and won his election the following year. He was elected county executive in 1994.
After toying with the idea of running for governor in 2002, Ruppersberger ran in the newly redrawn 2nd District, defeating his Republican opponent by nearly 9 points. He has won reelection comfortably since then.
Ruppersberger used his position on the House Appropriations Committee to funnel funds to his district, with a focus on defense spending for Maryland’s military bases. Earlier in his career, he held a seat on the House Select Committee on Intelligence, rising to be its ranking member.
Rupperberger’s district north of Baltimore is reliably Democratic and backed Joe Biden over Donald Trump by 21 percentage points in 2020. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race this year for the seat Solid Democratic.
His retirement means three of Maryland’s eight seats in the House, all held by Democrats, will be open this year. Rep. John Sarbanes said in October he would retire after this term, while Rep. David Trone is running for the seat in the Senate being vacated by Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin’s retirement.
Two Democrats had filed to run in the 2nd District even before Ruppersberger’s announcement: state Del. Harry Bhandari and Bryan Scott Moore. Local Democratic party leaders expect a third candidate, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, to enter the race as well. Olszewski launched an exploratory fundraising committee last summer, saying at the time that he’d only run if Ruppersberger retired.
Maryland’s primary is May 14.