Longtime Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio won’t seek reelection

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Rep. Peter DeFazio, the longest-serving U.S. House member in Oregon’s history, said Wednesday that he is retiring and will not seek re-election next year

The 74-year-old Democrat is the powerful chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

He represents Oregon’s 4th District, which covers the southwestern portion of the state, including coastal communities and the liberal university towns of Eugene and Corvallis.

It is seen as a safe seat for the Democrats,

“With humility and gratitude I am announcing that I will not seek re-election next year. It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve as Congressman for the Fourth District of Oregon,” DeFazio said in a statement.

DeFazio was first elected in 1986.

The last time a Republican was elected to the seat was in 1972.

Several lawmakers issued statements following the announcement:

In a statement, Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer poked fun at his friend and fellow Democrat’s height saying he wasn’t the tallest member of the Oregon delegation, but “he is a legislative giant in the mold of his hero, Wayne Morse.”

“He leaves an astounding legacy in everything that touches transportation and infrastructure: water, transit, highways, rail, and as the only certified bike mechanic ever elected to Congress is a champion of cycling and so much more,” Blumenauer said. “He’s carved out an unprecedented record and Oregon and our whole country is better for his service.  I am proud to have served with him and wish Peter every success in the next phase of his career.”

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden said DeFazio had all the qualities of a “top. notch legislator.”

“Thanks to Peter DeFazio, roads, bridges and transportation systems in Oregon and nationwide are stronger, last longer and are cleaner and greener,” he said.

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