Doolittle to Retire at End of Term, Won't Seek Re-Election
John Doolittle says he’s retiring from Congress at the end of the year. The Justice Department has been investigating his ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. But the Rocklin Republican says that’s not why he’s calling it quits.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
John Doolittle’s political views surely mirrored his rural Northern California district, which stretches from Sacramento’s northeast suburbs all the way to the Oregon and Nevada borders. As he announced his retirement Thursday, he quoted the scriptures and Ronald Reagan. And he touted staunch conservative accomplishments like America’s defeat of communism and reforming welfare. But he said while talking with his wife recently, he realized he just didn’t love his job any more.
Doolittle: “I don’t mind risking losing an election. But I really don’t like the idea of winning an election and being obligated to serve for two more years as the Representative. I’m ready for a change. And once that came out of my mouth – which was a revelation to me at that point – I knew the decision was easy. We needed to not run again.”
Supporters said Doolittle had been under a lot of pressure recently – from both the Abramoff investigation and from those within his own party who didn’t want him to run again. But on Thursday, he seemed relaxed, joking with the media. Placer County Supervisor Bruce Kranz met with him earlier in the day. He said Doolittle didn’t seem upset at all.
Kranz: “He felt a great deal of relief when he finally made the decision. When a job isn’t fun any more, it’s time to move on.”
So now, Doolittle’s seat opens up – much to the delight of Republicans like political consultant Jeff Flint.
Flint: “I think John Doolittle did the right thing for the district and for his party because he couldn’t win and hopefully he came to realize that. So what it does is it gives Republicans the chance to hold onto a district that they should.”
That’s why several Republicans are lining up to replace him in what one political analyst called a “lifetime job.” But Democrat Charlie Brown, who narrowly lost to Doolittle in 2006, is back for another campaign. Flint says Doolittle has damaged the Republican brand in that district. So even though the GOP now has a far better shot at holding the seat, Flint says it’d be a mistake for the party to take the general election for granted.