2 GOP House Lawmakers, Barbara Cubin and Jim Saxton, to Retire

Republican Rep. Barbara Cubin, who is serving her seventh term representing Wyoming, will not seek re-election next year, two Republican officials said Friday.

Rep. Jim Saxton of New Jersey, who's been elected to 12 full terms in Congress, said Friday he won't seek re-election as he's being treated for prostate cancer.

Cubin's office issued a statement earlier, saying only that the congresswoman planned to make an announcement about her future at a Republican Central Committee meeting Saturday in Casper.

At that meeting, Cubin will announce that she will not run for re-election, according to the two Republican officials who requested anonymity since the congresswoman has yet to publicly reveal her plans.

Cubin has missed almost half her votes this year as she has been in Wyoming tending to her husband, who has been ill for many years with an unspecified immune disorder. Dr. Frederick "Fritz" Cubin has been hospitalized repeatedly in Casper this year, often in critical condition.

She has also missed votes this year following her brother's death and after she broke her foot.

"It has been an extraordinarily difficult year for our family," Cubin said in an interview last month.

With Cubin's expected departure, the race for Wyoming's lone U.S. House seat will be wide open.

Three Republicans have already announced they will run, including retired naval officer Bill Winney who challenged Cubin last year and earned 40 percent of the vote in the primary. The other Republicans are Cheyenne substitute teacher Swede Nelson and Casper social worker Kenn Gilchrist.

State Rep. Colin Simpson of Cody said last spring that he planned to run against Cubin. But Simpson, son of former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson, has yet to formally announce his candidacy.

Last year, Cubin barely survived a challenge from Democrat Gary Trauner, who announced a few weeks ago that he will run again.

After the narrow win in 2006, Cubin appeared humbled.

"When it's this close, you probably did something wrong," she said shortly after the election. "My first day at work I will try to regain the confidence of voters who may have voted for me in the past but didn't vote for me this time."

Cubin has not voted since Oct. 25. According to a Washington Post votes database, Cubin has missed 536 votes this year, or 49.8 percent.

New Jersey's Saxton to Retire

Rep. Jim Saxton of New Jersey, who's been elected to 12 full terms in Congress, said Friday he won't seek re-election as he's being treated for prostate cancer.

The Republican Saxton has decided against seeking another term representing the congressional district that spans Camden, Burlington and Ocean counties.

"Although I intended to run in 2008 and was planning a strong campaign, developments which occurred earlier this year regarding my health have prompted me to make this decision," Saxton said.

Saxton spokesman Jeff Sagnip said Saxton was diagnosed in late spring with prostate cancer and is also being treated for chronic sciatica, a painful back and leg condition.

Saxton said he plans to serve out his current term.

"I will continue to receive medical treatment and my health care providers have indicated the prognosis is, in fact, very positive," Saxton said.

Saxton's decision comes after Democratic state Sen. John Adler recently announced he will challenge Saxton next year for the 3rd Congressional District seat.

Adler, of Cherry Hill, had criticized Saxton's support for the Iraq war and President Bush's veto of a plan to expand a children's health insurance program.

"I respect Congressman Saxton's decision to step down and I wish him well in his future endeavors, but I will continue my fight to change the direction of our community and our country," Adler said.

Adler may instead face state Sen. Diane Allen, an Edgewater Park Republican and former Philadelphia television news anchorwoman, who said she was asked Friday to run by national and state Republicans.

"Indeed, I am considering it," Allen said, emphasizing she had to discuss it with family.

Saxton, 64, of Mount Holly, has been known for fighting to protect Fort Dix, McGuire Air Force Base and Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst from closures.

"When faced with uphill battles, I have never given up, but instead countered adversity with hard work," Saxton said. "I have few regrets, but many fond memories."

Sagnip said Fort Dix was twice targeted for closure and the state's other two bases once each during Saxton's tenure, yet remained open.

"He is just an important person for our veterans and our Armed Forces," Allen said.

Saxton's work to keep those bases open drew praise from even Democrats on Friday.

"Notably, his concern for our men and women in uniform and his efforts on behalf of the Armed Forces at Fort Dix, Fort McGuire, and Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst have been impressive and commendable," said Rep. Rush Holt of Mercer County.

Tom Wilson, the New Jersey Republican Party chairman, also praised Saxton's work to protect the Jersey shore, Pinelands and fishing operations.

"He was successful because he didn't view his job through partisan eyes, but through the eyes of a public servant trying to get something done for his constituents," Wilson said.

Saxton, first elected to the House in 1984, is the 14th Republican member of the House to retire since the party lost its majority in the 2006 elections.

Three House Democrats have also announced retirement plans.

"Jim Saxton is a remarkably good man, a good friend of mine and an accomplished lawmaker," said Republican Rep. Chris Smith, whose 4th Congressional District borders Saxton's. "He will be deeply missed. No one in Congress has done more for the defense of our country than Jim Saxton."

Saxton first joined the House in 1984 to fill an unexpired term.

He's been re-elected 12 times, including in 2006 when he got 58 percent of the vote.

Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo of Vineland said Saxton's retirement will be a great loss.

"Throughout his career in public service, Jim has put his district and his state first," LoBiondo said.

Saxton is a Nicholson, Pa., native who graduated from East Stroudsburg University.

The father of two and grandfather of three was an elementary school teacher in Bordentown Township before entering the real estate and insurance business. He was elected to the state Assembly in 1975 and the state Senate in 1981.