All Signs Point to Boehlert Retirement

Upstate New York Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, a moderate Republican, is almost certain to announce his retirement tomorrow, according to information obtained by the Associated Press.

An e-mail sent to supporters this week says, “Please show your support for Congressman Boehlert by thanking him for his 42 years of public service and an amazing 24 years of service in Congress!”

The AP quotes one New York Republican: “They don’t hold a thank-you party for someone who is running again.”

As I speculated yesterday, Boehlert is likely to say goodbye, even though it would be a loss for his district. Waiting in the wings are at least four Democrats already in the race and several GOP prospects, including state Senators Ray Meier and James Seward.

I spoke to Boehlert today as he made his way to the House floor for a vote. Although he wouldn’t reveal his decision (even to a native of his district and former campaign worker in ’96), I sensed this was a man who was about to retire.

What other signs point to a Boehlert retirement?

  1. He told President Bush about his decision Tuesday, which is unusual for a candidate who will go through the motions of a re-election campaign.
  2. Anytime a candidate plans a “major announcement,” as was the case with Rep. Bill Thomas (R.-Calif.) earlier this month, is likely signals something more significant than a re-election announcement.
  3. He has just $232,000 cash on hand, which is about half of what he had in 2004. Although Boehlert has said he could raise a lot of case quickly, there’s no good reason not to raise money if you’re planning to run.
  4. He had heart bypass surgery in 2004. Boehlert says he’s healthy and could live another 25 years, but he is 69 years old, and maybe he wants to take it easy in his later years.
  5. Democrats are hungry for the seat, and Boehlert knows he’ll have a tough campaign ahead of him. Oneida County District Attorney Michael Arcuri is the leading Democrat in the race, and has proven he can win in Republican territory.

Stay tuned for the latest. Our Political Editor John Gizzi, who has known Boehlert for a quarter-century, is on top of the story.