Dicks is Done: Another Veteran Lawmaker Decides to Retire

Mar 2, 2012 2:00pm

Washington Democrat Norman Dicks, who is currently serving his 18th term in the House of Representatives, announced today he will not seek a 19th term, opting instead to retire at the end of the current session.

“I am announcing today my intention to complete my service in the House of Representatives at the end of the current session but not to be a candidate for re-election to the 113th Congress,” Dicks wrote in a statement today. “After 18 terms representing the people of the 6th Congressional District of Washington, preceded by eight years on the Staff of Senator Warren G. Magnuson, Suzie and I have made the decision to change gears and enjoy life at a different pace.”

Dicks becomes the 13th House Democrat not seeking reelection to the House. Eight other House Democrats are also leaving the House to seek higher political office.

“The privilege of serving in the House of Representatives, with the endorsement of the voters every two years, is indeed an honor unlike no other profession in our country and I have truly enjoyed every day here and have cherished all of the friendships we have made with many of the finest public servants in the nation,” Dicks noted. “I am proud that many of these friendships have crossed the ideological and party lines that tend to separate us, and I have always believed that we can achieve greater results if we leave politics aside when the election season and the floor debates are over.”

Dicks was best known in Congress as an appropriator, landing a rare assignment on the exclusive appropriations committee as a freshman lawmaker in 1977. Through the years, he rose to the top Democratic position on the panel.

Counted among Dicks’ top achievements in the House is his connection to the military, particularly through his role as the ranking Democratic member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. Both Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton occupy his district, and he was an ardent champion for Boeing, for which he helped secure a winning contract for the KC-X aerial refueling tanker.

Soon after he announced his intent to retire, some of his closest colleagues in Congress began to pay tribute to the senior Democrat, as did President Obama, who wrote a statement “to thank Norm Dicks for more than 30 years of service on behalf of the people of Washington State.”

“Norm has spent his career working to protect our national security, championing the men and women of our Armed Forces and fighting for the many natural resources of Washington State and the Pacific Northwest,” Obama noted. “Norm’s dedication to our nation’s intelligence personnel and his leadership on the Appropriations Committee will be missed in Congress and Michelle and I wish him and family well in the future.”

“Norm Dicks is a true Washington State institution, but more than that, he is my mentor, my friend, my advisor, my teammate, and my brother,” Sen. Patty Murray, a fellow Democrat from Washington, stated. “Norm is the guy who loves Washington State more than life, who would do anything to defend it, and who works everyone to the bone to make sure the families he represents are taken care of, and he doesn’t just fight hard—he wins. I will miss his voice here in our nation’s capital.”

Dicks, a former linebacker at the University of Washington, was expected to win had he sought another term. Throughout 18 terms, the closest anyone came to defeating him was in 1980, when he won 54-46 percent by about 16,000 votes. In 2010 he won by more than 42,000 votes, 58 to 42 over Republican candidate Doug Cloud.

“This is a strong Democratic district that President Obama won with 58 percent and Senator John Kerry won [in 2004],” Rep. Steve Israel, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, wrote in a statement today. “We look forward to electing a Democrat next November who will create jobs, protect the middle class and the Medicare guarantee for Washington state seniors.”

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