Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 3, 2010

MASSA TO 'ENTER THE FINAL PHASE' OF HIS LIFE.... Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) announced today that he's retiring from Congress this year, citing a recurrence of cancer.

In a conference call with reporters, Massa said he was hospitalized in December with a recurrence of cancer, and that doctors have told him he would no longer be able to function at full speed all the time.

"I run at about a hundred miles an hour. And my doctors have made it clear to me that I can no longer do that," Massa said.

"I do not have the life's energy to fight all the battles all the time," he said. "I will now enter the final phase of my life at a more controlled pace." Massa, who is in his first term, did not take questions from reporters on the conference call.

Politico reported that Massa's retirement is the result of an ethics investigation, stemming from alleged sexual harassment charges filed by a former male staffer. The congressman conceded he's "a salty guy" who has "used salty language" with staff, but angrily denied the allegations. Referring to the Politico piece, Massa said "those kinds of articles -- unsubstantiated without fact or backing -- are a symptom of what's wrong with this city."

There were also some reports earlier that Massa would announce his resignation from Congress, but he did not comment on leaving the Hill before the end of his term.

According to Chris Cillizza's count, Massa is the 15th House Democrat to announce his retirement this year, as compared to 19 House Republicans. The NRCC was already targeting Massa for defeat in his historically "red" district, and Republican officials are confident that Dems will not be able to keep the seat in November.

As this relates to the ongoing debate over health care reform, Massa opposed the Democratic legislation in November. Whether his retirement might free Massa to vote for reform now is not yet clear.*

* Update: This is an important clarification: Massa has been criticial of the Democratic reform proposal from the left, not the right. He support single-payer, so he doesnt need to be "freed" from local pressure.

Steve Benen 4:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (8)

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Perhaps Rep. Massa should consider that after leaving Congress he'll no longer have health care. He should want to support that bill. :-)

Posted by: fourlegsgood on March 3, 2010 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Massa was one of just two members of the House Progressive Caucus to vote against the original bill, presumably because it didn't go far enough. One would think he would vote in favor of the current bill.

Posted by: KTinOhio on March 3, 2010 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

"One would think he would vote in favor of the current bill."

Of course, as soon as I wrote that, I read in TPM that Raul Grivalja and Dennis Kucinich are leaning toward voting against the bill. Geez, people, don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good.

Posted by: KTinOhio on March 3, 2010 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

right KT, he definitely didn't think it went far enough, don't know where he stands now.

Posted by: phil on March 3, 2010 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Wait, does salty mean gay now too? I'm gay and even I'm confused!

Posted by: Trollopy Gayness on March 3, 2010 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Why the F do you insist on treating Politico like anything other than a purveyor of propaganda?

Do you have friends over there you're trying to support? Tell them to run away, before their integrity is ruined.

Posted by: JPS on March 3, 2010 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

four--Eric will still have health care, he's a Navy vet and never did sign up for the congressional health plan. And he voted against the health care bill because it didn't contain single payer.

I thought he was a good congressman and I'll miss him.

Posted by: Cathy on March 3, 2010 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

Massa opposes the current bills because they don't have a public option. This is a tough, hard-working guy who is trying to do the best for his constituency, and for all of us, while in Congress. We need 100 more like him: direct, forthright, unafraid to fight for principles.

Should he vote for the compromise? Of course, if that's all we're going to get, but don't blame the guy for criticizing the bad deal.

Posted by: nancycadet on March 4, 2010 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK
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