Vulnerable House Dem Announces Retirement Due to Cancer

By Jonathan Blakely

Mar 3, 2010 3:01pm

ABC News’ David Chalian Reports: Congressman Eric Massa, D-Ny, announced his retirement from Congress on a conference call with reporters this afternoon. “I will not seek reelection to this office, and I'm making this announcement early so that others may consider a run should they decide to do so,” said Massa. The upstate New York Democrat said he is battling a reoccurrence of cancer and his doctor’s have advised him to slow down. “This last December, I underwent my third major cancer reoccurrence scare.  I was briefly hospitalized.  I kept it private with myself and my immediate family.  It was a very intense and personal experience especially in light of having gone through this before,” Massa said. “I run at about 100 miles an hour.  And my doctors have made it clear to me that I can no longer do that,” he added. Rep. Massa was elected to Congress in 2008 with 51% of the vote in an upstate New York district where John McCain bested Barack Obama by three points. He was one of the most vulnerable freshmen House Democrats facing reelection this year. Rep. Massa was also one of the 39 Democrats who voted against the House health care bill last November.  He was on Speaker Pelosi’s target list to flip from a “no” vote to a “yes” vote when the health care bill comes up for a vote on the floor.  Now that he has announced his retirement, the Speaker’s job may have gotten a bit easier since Rep. Massa will no longer have a tough reelection battle to consider when casting his vote. On the conference call, Rep. Massa also addressed published reports that said he was being accused of harassment. “Do I or have I ever used salty language when I'm angry especially in the privacy of my inner office or even at home?,” Massa asked himself.  “Yes I have.  And I have apologized to those where it's appropriate.  But those kinds of articles — unsubstantiated without facts or backing — are a symptom of what's wrong with this city,” he said. “It is why so many have looked at the absolute gridlock in Washington — the intense partisanship without rational thought — and decided, like I, I do not have the life's energy to fight all the battles all the time,” he added. Massa promised to continue to serve his constituents of the 29th congressional district of New York as he prepares to enter what he described the “final phase” of his life at a “more controlled pace.” ABC News’ Matt Loffman contributed to this report.

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