Eric Massa to Retire Amid Cancer Fight, Harassment Allegations

(AP)
New York Freshman Democratic Rep. Eric Massa has announced he will not seek a second term, citing the fact that his cancer has returned.

Massa said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday that he was hospitalized in Decemeber after the return of his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which had been in remission. He described the cancer scare, his third, as a "very intense and personal experience" and said his doctors have informed him that he can no longer "run at about 100 miles per hour." He said he was thus forgoing a reelection effort.

The married Navy veteran, who has two children, also addressed allegations that he has sexually harassed a male member of his staff. Politico, citing several House aides, reported Wednesday afternoon that "the House Ethics Committee has been informed of allegations that Massa…sexually harassed a male staffer."

Massa called the allegations "unsubstantiated or without facts or backing," calling them a "symptom of what's wrong with this city."

But he also said that he has used "salty language when I'm angry, especially in the privacy of my inner office or at home." He said he had "apologized to those where it's appropriate."

Massa did not take questions after reading his brief statement.

The lawmaker, who represents the Republican-leaning 29th Congressional district, has pushed hard for health care reform and cited his battle with cancer as a prime motivation for running for office. An advocate for a single-payer health care system, Massa opposed the health care bill that passed the House.

Republicans, believing Massa to be vulnerable in his reelection bid, had targeted him and were optimistic about the prospects for one of his potential opponents, Republican Corning Mayor Tom Reed.

Massa is the 15th House Democrat to announce retirement heading into the 2010 midterm elections.

On the call Wednesday, Massa said he does "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," he said.

Listen to Massa's announcement here.

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