CORNING, N.Y. – Rep. Amo Houghton (search), a businessman turned congressman who is an institution in upstate New York politics, said Tuesday that he won't seek a 10th term in the House.
"I've decided that I'm not going to run again," the moderate Republican told supporters. "I appreciate everything you've done for me and all the friendship you've given me."
Houghton, 77, is the former CEO of Corning Inc., (search) which his family founded.
A multimillionaire, Houghton represents a kind of noblesse oblige approach to politics to many in Washington.
In 18 years in Congress, he became a member of the Republican Main Street Partnership (search), a group generally voting as fiscal conservatives and social moderates.
First elected to Congress in 1986, Houghton also spent the past year disagreeing with the Bush administration on the war in Iraq and tax cuts.
His absence opens the Republican district to a host of aspirants, though the early favorite appears to be state Sen. John "Randy" Kuhl.
Houghton recently fought a Bush administration proposal to shutter the Veterans Affairs hospital in Canandaigua.
A commission appointed to review the proposal has recommended it remain open with 50 fewer psychiatric beds, and the VA secretary is expected to make a final decision within a few weeks.
Houghton was one of two New York Republicans to vote against impeaching President Clinton. He pushed instead for a strongly worded censure.