- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 24, 2002

Several of the House's more prominent and colorful members, including Republican Rep. Dick Armey of Texas and Democratic stalwart Rep. David E. Bonior, are leaving office with the close of this Congress.
Some are taking the short walk down the Capitol hallway to the Senate. One took a longer trip to a Pennsylvania jail.
Among those who will not be around when the 108th session of Congress begins in January are Rep. Bob Barr, Georgia Republican, perhaps the most relentless among those trying to impeach President Clinton, and Rep. Gary A. Condit, California Democrat, a congressman undone by his relationship with an intern killed in a D.C. park.
In all, 37 House members are retiring at the end of this session. Eight, including Mr. Barr and Mr. Condit, were defeated in primary races; eight more lost in the general election.
Five persons died, including 15-term Democratic Rep. Joe Moakley, a much-loved Boston Irish politician, and Rep. Patsy T. Mink, Hawaii Democrat, a 24-year veteran and champion of women's rights. Mrs. Mink, who died at the end of September, was re-elected posthumously. A special election to fill her seat will be held in January.
Republicans are losing top leaders such as Mr. Armey and Rep. J.C. Watts Jr. of Oklahoma. Mr. Armey, famed for his knowledge of country music, fishing stories and free-market conservatism, finished his 18-year congressional career on a high note, leading the effort to pass a homeland security bill. The Texan also created the independent process for closing military bases and was a main author of the Contract With America, the legislative bible for the House Republican Party when Republicans became the majority in 1994.
"We would not be a majority if it was not for Dick Armey," House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle, Iowa Republican, said in a tribute.
Mr. Watts, a former star quarterback for the University of Oklahoma, was the fourth-ranked House Republican and the only black Republican in Congress.
Mr. Watts, 45, said in a retirement announcement that serving in Congress was "one of the most exhilarating experiences in my life," but that after eight years in Washington "it is time to return home, to go on with other things in my life."
Mr. Bonior, Michigan Democrat, was in Congress for 26 years, serving as whip, the No. 2 party position, for 10 years until he ceded that position this year to Rep. Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, so he could concentrate on a run for governor. He lost that race. A seminarian and college football player in his youth, Mr. Bonior, 57, was a champion of liberal causes such as defending labor rights and opposing the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Several current and former committee chairmen are leaving.
Rep. James V. Hansen, Utah Republican, who as chairman of the Resources Committee worked to keep Western lands open for mining and ranching, is stepping down after 22 years. Rep. Bob Stump, Arizona Republican, the Armed Services Committee chairman, was in the House for 26 years.
Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman, New York Republican, who next month marks his 80th birthday and is the oldest member of the House, retires after 30 years in Congress, including six as chairman of the International Relations Committee.
Mr. Bonior and Mr. Armey are considering new careers in academia, although neither has made a decision, their offices said. Mr. Watts is expected to pick up a little money on the speaking circuit before he decides his next career move.

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