Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-New York, announced today that he will retire at the end of his term rather than seek a 16th term in the House of Representatives.
"After months of long family discussions, I have decided not to seek reelection for my seat in the United States House of Representatives," Towns wrote in a statement announcing his decision. "It has been an honor to have fought so that the people of New York can have more opportunities and a chance to live better lives."
Towns, who represents Brooklyn in Congress, is former chairman of the powerful committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and he is a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer honored Towns' service, calling him "a dedicated public servant and a tireless fighter for New Yorkers throughout his twenty-nine years in office."
"After serving alongside him for so long and witnessing his passion for this country and especially for its students, I was saddened to learn of his decision to retire at the end of the 112th Congress," Hoyer, D-Md., stated. "His voice and insights will be greatly missed in Congress and in our Democratic Caucus."
The New York Democrat adds to what is becoming the largest retiring class of House Democrats in recent years, although Democrats are expected to hold his seat in the general election.
Towns becomes the 15 th House Democrat to retire at the end of this cycle, with each of the retiring members averaging more than 20 years of service in the House. Ten Republicans have also decided not to run again this November; they too average similar tenures in office. Each party also has six members running for Senate.
In 2010, just 11 House Democrats and eight House Republicans chose not to run for reelection. Only three House Democrats decided not to run in 2008, when President Obama defeated Sen. John McCain. Twenty-two House Republicans retired after that cycle.
When House Democrats seized the majority and elected Nancy Pelosi as the first female speaker of the House in 2006, only three Democrat and eight Republican incumbents did not run again.
The last time this many House Democrats decided to retire was after the 104 th Congress, when 20 Democratic incumbents stepped down in 1997.