- The Washington Times - Monday, February 18, 2008

Rep. John Shadegg is reconsidering his decision to step down from the House next year at the urging of his party colleagues, his office says.

The 58-year-old Arizona Republican, who is in his seventh term in the House, said last week he would not seek re-election in November, saying “it is time to seek a new challenge in a different venue.”

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

But the Republican Study Committee, a group that helps shape conservative policies for the House, sent a letter Friday to the lawmaker asking him to reconsider retirement. The effort was organized by committee chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, former chairman Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana and Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan.

The letter was signed by more than 140 House Republicans, including Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio, Minority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri and House Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam of Florida.

“Your intellectual consistency in defense of the Constitution and passionate articulation of conservative principles is in need now more than ever,” the letter stated. “We fear that without you and the long-term perspective you bring to every debate, our battles will be difficult to win.

“The Republican Conference needs you here, the conservative movement needs you here, and the country needs you here.”

Shadegg spokeswoman Abby Winter said yesterday the congressmen was surprised and flattered by the letter and that “he does believe it is his obligation to the members who circulated the letter to give it consideration.”

Mr. Shadegg will make a decision within the next week or so on whether to reconsider retirement, Ms. Winter said.

Speculation among Capitol Hill insiders is that Mr. Shadegg would run for Arizona Sen. John McCain’s seat if the Republican presidential candidate wins the White House. Ms. Winter said Mr. Shadegg “is not ruling anything out, but he is not pursuing anything either.”

Mr. Shadegg 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 Mr. Boehner for the House majority leader post after the resignation of Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas.

His Phoenix-area district has leaned Republican in recent elections. He won re-election in 2006 with 59 percent of the vote. In 2004, President Bush won 58 percent of the vote in the district to Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry’s 41 percent.

But the race for the Mr. Shadegg’s District 3 seat is expected to be more competitive this year, as Democratic candidate Bob Lord has raised more than $612,000.

“John Shadegg cannot decide whether or not he wants to serve our nation at this critical moment — that fact speaks for itself,” said Lord spokesman Andrew Eldredge-Martin.

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