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Swing district Democratic Congressman Ron Kind announces he will not run for reelection

Congressman Ron Kind of Wisconsin's 3rd district announced on Tuesday that this term would be his last, leaving another swing Democratic-held House seat without an incumbent in the 2022 midterm elections

"The truth is I've run out of gas. At the end of this term it will be 26 years of running back and forth to Washington D.C. traveling around… and that takes its toll," he said in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Kind is the eighth House Democrat to either announce their retirement or a run for another office. Two of those, Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona and Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania, who is running for the open Senate seat, are two other House Democrats in swing seats who are leaving the chamber. 

There are also eight House Republicans who are not running for reelection, though none are in districts competitive as Kind's.

Kind was the dean of Wisconsin's House delegation, serving for close to 26 years. He had one of his closest re-election margins in 2020, beating Republican candidate Derrick Van Orden by about 3 points.

Rep. Ron Kind
Representative Ron Kind, D-Wisc., walks down the House steps after the last vote of the week in the Capitol on Friday, May 14, 2021.  Bill Clark / AP

Kind was a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee and was known as a moderate who had bucked party leadership. He opposed Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California's runs for House Speaker in 2007 and 2019, and voted for the late Congressman John Lewis in the 2019 Speaker election.

"When Congressman Kind retires at the end of this term, Wisconsin and America will be losing a public servant in Congress who has dedicated decades to delivering results For The People," Pelosi said in a statement about his retirement that praised his work on Ways and Means and on the Natural Resources Committee. 

President Biden lost the district by about 5 points in 2020, although he visited the district with Kind in late June to promote the American Jobs Plan. 

Van Orden had already launched a rematch against Kind for the 2022 election and out raised him in the first six months of the year. Van Orden thanked Kind in a statement on his retirement and wrote the announcement "is indicative of what I hear every day as I travel the 3rd District: Wisconsinites want a change."

National groups like the National Republican Congressional Committee and Congressional Leadership Fund also had Kind's district high on their target list.

"I can tell you Ron Kind… he's not coming back. If he chooses not to retire, if he chooses to run again, he will not win re-election," NRCC chair Tom Emmer said on a call with reporters in July. 

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Sean Patrick Maloney called Kind "a champion for Wisconsin's working families." Kind was on the committee's "Frontline" program for vulnerable incumbents.

Kind said "the other sad truth" that led to his retirement is that politicians who are "reasonable, pragmatic, thoughtful" are a "dying breed."

"We're seeing fewer and fewer of those types of people willing to serve. Who don't believe that politics should just be a constant combat sport where the goal is just to destroy people on the other side. And unfortunately, we're seeing too many of those in public service today," he said. 

National and state Democrats expect the district, which went from voting for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 to  Republican Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020, to remain competitive and on the target list for Democrats.

Kind, who is 58 years old, kept his future plans vague during his remarks. Republican Senator Ron Johnson is up for re-election in 2022, and Kind's name has been floated to join a crowded Democratic challenger field.

"I'm not done, we've got 16 months to go," Kind said. "Beyond that we don't know. We're excited by the prospects and the new opportunity, the new chapter that Tawni and I are going to embark upon. But we can promise you this...we're going to stay deeply committed to this community and finding new ways to give back and contribute."

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