David Obey, "Bone Tired," to Retire From Congress

AP

Rep. David Obey, prominent Democrat and 21-term congressmen, announced today that he would not be seeking reelection, opening up another hotly-contested seat for the mid-term elections in the fall.

Obey said partisan politics and an increasingly hostile media are some of the reasons he has decided to leave Washington. But in the end, he said, "quite frankly, I am bone tired."

"I have done all the things that I am likely to do," he said.

Although President Obama carried Obey's district 56 percent to 42 percent in 2008, the rural area in northern Wisconsin is hardly a Democratic stronghold.

Still, Obey said he is not concerned his retirement will mean a win for Republicans in the fall.

"(We have) six Democrats in the stable and I think that any one of them is capable of winning that seat," he said. "If I had not thought so, I would not have done this."

Obey, the chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, has served longer than all but eighteen representatives in history. He lamented the loss of congressional camaraderie that once existed on Capitol Hill.

"You may fight like the devil between the hours of nine and five but then you could go out and get a drink afterwards," he said. "I wish to God that era was not already as far away as it is today."

Democratic sources told CBS News they were aware of Obey's intentions to announce today, but some junior staff members said they were informed only this morning.

Obey said his announcement has been in the works since the House passed health care reform in March, which was one of his long-standing policy goals.

He also said the prospect of going through another round of redistricting after the 2010 census, and all the inevitable political sniping that goes along with it, was just more than he could take.

"I just don't want to have to deal with their stuff anymore, it's just that simple," he said.

Flanked by his staff, two sons and his wife, who he described as now being the "happiest woman in Wisconsin," Obey said it was time to let a younger, fresher set of eyes take over.

"For me now, after 48 years, it is time to pass the torch," he said.