Cramer Announces Retirement

House Republicans got a rare bit of encouraging news today when Rep. Bud Cramer (D-Ala.) announced he would be stepping down after nine terms in Congress, opening up a conservative-minded seat in northern Alabama.

“I have been truly blessed to be able to serve this district in Washington,” Cramer said in a statement. “While I am closing my career as a member of Congress I will continue to be active in the life, growth and development of the community that I, my parents and my grandchildren will always call home.”

A founder of the conservative-leaning Blue Dog Democrats, Cramer has maintained a centrist voting record during his 18 years in Congress. He has been a leading advocate for the district’s sizable aerospace industry, concentrated at the Marshall Space Flight Center.

The district, centered in Huntsville, has leaned Republican in federal races, but has a history of supporting Democrats as well. It gave President Bush 60 percent of the vote in 2004, and 54 percent in 2000.

With its ancestral Democratic roots, the district never elected a Republican congressman, according to the Almanac of American Politics.

Cramer is only the seventh Democrat to announce his retirement this election cycle. The only other open, Democratic-held seat that Republicans are contesting is that of Rep. Darlene Hooley (D-Ore.), who represents a Salem, Oregon-based district.

Given the district's demographics, this will likely be one of the Republicans' top pickup opportunities.