The Washington Times - October 4, 2011, 06:46PM

Rep. Jerry Costello of Illinois said Tuesday he won’t seek re-election in 2012, adding to a growing list of Democrats who are leaving the House.

“It has been a privilege and an honor to serve in the U.S. Congress for the past 23 years,” Mr. Costello said in a prepared statement. “However, I said when I was elected in 1988 and many times since that I did not intend to stay in Congress forever as I had other interests that I wanted to pursue.”

Mr. Costello, 62, who will serve out the remainder of his term, which expires in early January 2013, said he doesn’t consider the move a “retirement” because he plans to stay active with other endeavors.

“You can’t go from 100 mph everyday and just stop,” he said. “I intend to continue to go full speed pursuing other interests and opportunities that may come along.”

The lawmaker said he will “miss the people but not the weekly commute from home to Washington, D.C.”

Mr. Costello, whose district represents a mostly rural area of southern Illinois, is the fifth House Democrat to announce that they will step down at the end of their current two-year term, while six Democrats in the chamber are running for the Senate. Three other House Democrats resigned this year without finishing their terms.

No Republican has announced retirement from the House, while four are running for the Senate. One House Republican resigned this year.

President Obama praised Mr. Costello’s more than two decades in the House, where he serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure, and Science, Space and Technology committees.

“Born and raised in the state he now serves, Jerry has distinguished himself as a fierce advocate for improving our nation’s transportation infrastructure to ensure Illinois and the entire country are prepared to lead the way in a 21st century economy,” the president said in prepared statement.

“Michelle and I want to join the people of Illinois in thanking Congressman Costello for his service, and we wish him and his family well in the future.”