Massa Won't Seek Reelection

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If Politico's breaking news report is true, It's been a short time in Congress for Eric Massa, the former Navy Admiral commander that supplanted Republican Randy Kuhl in 2008 as Democrats took swing districts across the country, sweeping voters up in the Obama Wave.

The breaking news: that Massa won't seek reelection amid allegations that he sexually harassed a male staffer.

Politico cited House aides in its breaking story, who have said that the House ethics panel has been informed of the allegations.

A call and e-mail to a Massa spokesman seeking confirmation were not immediately returned.

Massa's win was a quality pickup for Democrats in '08, as he represents a conservative district in upstate New York.


UPDATE from Marc Ambinder: a senior Democratic source said that Massa is resigning because of the allegation about the male staffer. He's holding a conference call at this moment.

UPDATE from Chris Good: Massa told reporters during a press conference call Wednesday afternoon that he is leaving Congress because of cancer--a recurrence of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

He blamed his "salty language" for the reports of allegations against him.

"Do I, or I have I ever used salty language, when I'm angry, especially in the privacy of my inner office, or even at home? Yes I have, and I've apologized to those where it's appropriate," Massa said.

Massa's retirement--particularly if it bears out as a scandal, which Massa denies it is--would mean more bad news for New York Democrats after what has already been a bad few days: on Friday, Gov. David Paterson announced he won't seek reelection following the much-anticipated New York Times stories about his (and his employees') contact with a woman who alleged she was assaulted by one of the governor's top aides, and today Rep. Charlie Rangel, the senior Democrat from Harlem, announced he would step aside as chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee after the  House ethics panel found Friday that he had improperly taken gifts in the form of trips to the Caribbean, while the panel is still looking at his use of his official position to raise money for a college center that bears his name and his use of rent-controlled apartments in New York.

The news about Massa may get lost in the shuffle of all that, and--again, if it's a scandal--it's better for Democrats that it has happened now, and not closer to November. When the Mark Foley scandal broke in late September 2006--the worst possible timing, with regard to the pending midterms--congressional Republicans were brought down in part by their association with ethics scandals.

Hear audio of Massa's remarks here. Below is a full transcript of the statement he made:
"This last December, I underwent my third major cancer reoccurrence scare. I was briefly hospitalized, kept it private with myself and my immediate family. It was a very intense and personal experience, especially in light of having gone through this before.

"I'm a very salty guy, I'm a very direct guy, and I run at about a hundred miles an hour, and my doctors had made it clear to me that I can no longer do that. It is therefore only fair and right that I announce today that I will not seek reelection to this office, and I'm making this announcement early, so that others may consider a run should they decide to do so," Massa said.

"Now there are blogs who are saying that I'm leaving because there were charges of harassment against my staff. Do I, or I have I ever used salty language, when I'm angry, especially in the privacy of my inner office, or even at home? Yes I have, and I've apologized to those where it's appropriate.

"But those kinds of articles, unsubstantiated without fact or backing, are a symptom of what's wrong with this city, and it's why so many have looked at the absolute gridlock in Washington, the intense partisanship without rational thought, and decided, like I, I do not have the life energy to fight all the battles all the time.

"I will now enter a final phase of my life at a more controlled pace, and I'd like my constituents to know that I remain fully committed to helping the families of the 29th congressional district. I leave you all as I have always left my press conferences, with my personal wishes of good health, and God bless."
Thumbnail image credit: Wikimedia Commons
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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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