- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Rep. John Shadegg, Arizona Republican, announced yesterday that he won’t seek re-election in November, saying he was ready for new challenges and wanted to spend more time with his family.

His announcement brings the number of Republican seats left open by retirements to at least 29.

“It was never my intention to be a professional politician,” Mr. Shadegg said in a statement. “The bottom line is that this is a personal decision between my family and me, about our dreams, goals and ambitions, and we have concluded that it is time for me to seek a new challenge in a different venue to advance the cause of freedom.”

Mr. Shadegg, 58, was first elected to Congress from the Phoenix area in 1994, when Republicans took control of the House after decades of Democratic majority. In 2006, he unsuccessfully challenged House Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio for the House’s top Republican position after the resignation of Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas.

He said yesterday that his health, poll numbers and campaign-finance situation were fine and played no part in his decision to step down.

“Obviously, the Arizona Democrat Party will gin up its partisan spin machine, consistent with its baseless attacks launched over the past few months,” he said. “So I will answer the obvious questions: My health is great; I have not felt better in years, and I expect to be involved in our nation’s political discourse for decades to come.”

Doug Thornell, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, called Mr. Shadegg’s retirement “yet another major blow to national Republicans” and said “Shadegg, like 28 other Republicans before him, saw the writing on the wall.”

Arizona lawyer and Democrat Bob Lord, who has raised more than $612,000 in his bid for Mr. Shadegg’s seat, said the incumbent’s retirement “shows the incredible momentum for change all across Arizona and the nation.”

Arizona’s 3rd District has leaned Republican for many years. In 2004, President Bush won 55 percent of the vote in the district to Democratic challenger John Kerry’s 44 percent.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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