- The Washington Times - Friday, March 17, 2006

UTICA, N.Y. (AP) — Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, New York Republican and chairman of the House Science Committee, yesterday announced plans to retire after nearly 24 years in Congress.

“It is time,” Mr. Boehlert told a crowd of hundreds of friends, colleagues and family members at Utica’s historic train station. “I feel like I’ve done it the right way. … This decision was not made lightly, nor was it made in haste.”

Mr. Boehlert, 69, leads a small, moderate GOP faction in Congress that has clashed with President Bush on such issues as global warming and spending for social programs.

In recent years, that faction won some hard-fought legislative victories, but those battles have not endeared Mr. Boehlert to some powerful House Republicans.

Mr. Boehlert has also defended scientists when their professional opinions have drawn heat from administration policy-makers.

Last year, when Rep. Joe L. Barton, Texas Republican and chair of the House Energy Committee, launched a congressional investigation of three climate scientists, Mr. Boehlert accused him of trying to “intimidate scientists rather than learn from them.”

Rep. John M. McHugh, a fellow New York Republican, called Mr. Boehlert “an honest broker who votes his conscience and core beliefs, even when that might not be, politically, the wisest choice.”

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, said Mr. Boehlert, “… has been an advocate for the President’s Competitiveness Agenda, outlined in the State of the Union, as a way to enhance math, science and technology education and research. … We in the House of Representatives appreciate his service and will miss him in the next Congress.”

Without Mr. Boehlert running, Democrats hope to take the 24th Congressional District, which covers parts of 11 counties in central New York. It has more than 165,000 Republicans and 126,000 Democrats.

Mr. Boehlert was first elected to the House in 1982. He is currently serving his 12th consecutive term. He was re-elected in 2004 with 57 percent of the vote.

President Bush carried the district with 53 percent of the vote in 2004, but barely squeaked by Al Gore there in 2000, 48 percent to 47 percent.

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