WASHINGTON – Veteran Oregon Rep. Darlene Hooley said Thursday she will not run for re-election.
Hooley, a six-term Democrat, is known for her work on identity theft protection, consumer product safety and support for the Oregon National Guard. She said she has decided to pursue other professional opportunities next year.
"I have done this long enough," Hooley said in an interview. "You come to a point in your life when there are some other things you want to do."
Hooley said representing Oregon in Congress "has been my greatest honor and privilege," but said she had grown weary of the constant demands to raise money.
"Frankly, probably the thing that put me over the top is knowing once again I will probably spend a lot of time raising money," she said. "I think it's a system that needs to change."
Hooley, 68, has had health problems in recent years. She was hospitalized in December with excess fluid in her lungs and underwent knee replacement surgery in late 2002.
But she said Thursday that health was not a factor in her decision.
"I've never felt better," she said, adding her doctor gave her "a totally clean bill of health."
Hooley's retirement caught most observers off-guard. She was considered likely to win a seventh term representing the Salem-based district.
Democrats said the party will find a strong replacement to fight off what is expected to be an energetic effort by Republicans to fill Hooley's seat in what is considered a swing district.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Hooley has been a powerful voice for Oregon's families, troops and veterans for more than a decade.
"Her work to protect identity theft victims, curb the problem with methamphetamines and to ensure our troops and veterans receive benefits that are worthy of their sacrifice is a proud legacy," Van Hollen said. "We will miss her dedication, friendship, and most of all her leadership in Congress. We are confident that a Democrat will win this seat and continue to work to change the direction of the country."