- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 27, 2002

Arizona Republican Rep. Bob Stump surprised many in his state by announcing yesterday he is retiring for his health.

In a statement released yesterday, Mr. Stump, 75, said he recently learned he has "serious health problems" and has since been undergoing tests.

"For that reason, I have decided not to seek re-election and will return to farming at home in Tolleson at the end of this term," said Mr. Stump, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and 26-year veteran of Congress. "The friendship and support of so many people both in Arizona and across the country mean a great deal to me. It has been a singular honor for me to represent them in Congress."

"This was absolutely not expected," said Brian Murray, executive director of the Arizona Republican Party. "There are shock waves going through the community."

Mr. Stump's longtime chief of staff, Lisa Atkins, promptly announced she would run for the seat and Mr. Stump endorsed her in a statement released yesterday afternoon, saying he has "relied upon her knowledge, judgment and understanding of the issues important to the people of Arizona."

Republicans on Capitol Hill said Mr. Stump's retirement is a blow to the party.

"We are losing a dedicated public servant and steadfast military proponent with Bob Stump's retirement after nearly three decades of leadership in the House," said Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican and chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Republicans are confident the district will remain in Republican hands.

"It's a solid Republican district, with about a 20 percent registration advantage," Mr. Murray said. "It will be retained by the Republican Party."

Mr. Murray said two other possible Republican candidates vying for Mr. Stump's seat are John Keegan, mayor of Peoria, Ariz., and state Sen. Scott Bundgaard.

But Democrats are not conceding the seat will be won by a Republican, said Dianna Jennings, press secretary for the Arizona Democratic Party.

"This is going to be a heated race for this district," she said. "With Mr. Stump there for as long as he was I think people felt that it almost belonged to him. Certainly with him not in the picture now, it has opened up."

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee pointed out that so far this election cycle, Mr. Stump is the 20th House Republican to create an open seat that Republicans will have to defend.

"House Republicans have a lot of territory to defend this cycle," said DCCC spokeswoman Kim Rubey. "The rapid rate of Republican retirements is truly remarkable."

There are already two Democrats running for Mr. Stump's seat Liz Farley, a computer software engineer for Honeywell International, and Linda Calvert, the former Maricopa County Democratic chairman. Mrs. Calvert said other Democrats may jump into the race as well, now that Mr. Stump is retiring.

Mr. Stump was first elected to the House in 1976 as a Democrat. He switched to the Republican Party in 1981.

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