Leader of 'New Democrats' Won't Run Again, Blames Political 'Bickering'

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:27 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Washington's "partisan rancor and bickering" is prompting a leading Democratic moderate to give up his career in the U.S. House. Rep. Tim Roemer (Ind.) announced Friday he will not seek re-election in 2002. In addition to his frustration over the political squabbling, Roemer said he wants to spend more time with his family.

Roemer, who co-chairs the New Democrat Coalition said, "Today's Congress, instead of serving as an arena for discussion of the public good, is dominated by tactics and strategies that all too often value short-term political gains over the long-term interests of the nation. These frustrations have made it even harder for me to work in a Congress that continues to provide an unfriendly environment for families. I am concerned that young parents and families, such as mine, will be unable or unwilling to consider serving in Congress."

Roemer was first elected to Congress in 1990. He was narrowly re-elected last November to a sixth term.

Insiders say because of the looming Congressional redistricting, Roemer might have faced an even tougher re-election bid had he decided to run in 2002. Indiana will lose a House seat in two years as a result of the 2000 Census and reports out of Indiana say Roemer's district could be redrawn to favor Republicans.

Roemer's House district includes South Bend, Michigan City and Elkhart County and has been trending Republican in recent years. Former President George H.W. Bush carried it in 1992, as did Republican Bob Dole in 1996 and President George W. Bush in 2000.

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Davis (R-Va.) sees Roemer's departure as a big opportunity for the GOP. "We're sorry to see Tim leave. But, this development means there will be one less Democrat in the Indiana delegation come 2003," Davis said Friday. "This is only the first of what could be a long line of retirements by dispirited House Democrats after their failed all-out effort to take back the House in 2000."

Roemer is one of the House's most visible moderate Democrats. He supported the balanced budget amendment and much of the "Contract With America." He also challenged funding for the space station, angered teachers unions by introducing bills to use federal funds to encourage charter schools and to change teacher credentialing.

In 1998, he thought then-President Bill Clinton should be censured for his conduct in the Monica Lewinsky scandal but voted to acquit Clinton on four counts of impeachment.

Roemer's office said he has "no firm job plans" after his term expires but is not ruling out a return to public life in the future.