WASHINGTON (AP) — Two House Democrats, Carolyn McCarthy of New York and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, plan to retire at the end of their terms, their offices announced Wednesday.
McCarthy, 70, has served nine terms in the House. Originally a Republican, she is among the most ardent advocates of gun control in the House and was inspired to run for Congress after the GOP congressman representing the suburban Long Island seat voted to repeal a 1994 law banning so-called assault weapons ban. Her husband, Dennis, was killed and their son, Kevin, seriously injured in a 1993 mass shooting on the Long Island Railroad.
"As a nation, more needs to be done to keep our citizens safe, while simultaneously protecting our constitutional rights," McCarthy said in a statement. "Incidents involving gun violence over the last two years serve as yet another reminder that although modest progress has been made over the years, there is much more work to do."
In a statement, President Barack Obama said McCarthy had earned a reputation "for principled and compassionate leadership" and that he and first lady Michelle Obama admire her "determination and personal strength." The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence praised McCarthy as "a beacon of inspiration and hope."
"For the past 18 years the gun violence issue has had no greater champion in Congress," the Brady Campaign said in a statement. "Over that time she has fought tirelessly and courageously on behalf of her constituents and the American people to make this the safer nation we all want and deserve."
McCarthy, a longtime smoker, announced last June that she was undergoing treatment for lung cancer. In November she filed a lawsuit claiming exposure to asbestos as a young woman may have contributed to her disease. She has been absent from the House in recent months.
McIntyre, a 57-year-old moderate, is one of the few remaining white Southern Democrats in the House and also has served for nine terms. He survived the Republican sweep in 2010 and redrawn congressional lines in 2012. His retirement gives the Republicans a strong chance of winning the seat. Deeply religious, McIntyre has frequently deviated from the Democratic line on issues such as repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" law banning gay people from serving openly in the military and he voted in 2012 to repeal the so-called Obamacare health care law.
"In eastern North Carolina, we have demonstrated that public service is a partnership between the people and the representative," McIntyre said in a statement. "For us, this has been where the priorities of policy over politics, issues over ideology, dialogue over dollars, and cooperation over campaigning have prevailed."
Obama praised McIntyre as "a strong advocate for our men and women in uniform and a key voice on issues that shape the lives of Americans in rural communities."
Republican are confident of picking up McIntyre's seat. North Carolina's GOP-controlled Legislature redrew the boundary lines for the district in hopes of ousting McIntyre in 2012 but he won re-election by less than 1,000 votes and was being targeted again this year in a much more difficult political environment for Democrats.
"Today's announcement from Rep. Mike McIntyre solidifies the extremely difficult road ahead for Democrats in 2014. This retirement announcement also proves that Obamacare and its negative impact continues to burden Democrats in 2014, even for Democrats who voted against the law like McIntyre," said Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., who chairs the House Republicans' campaign committee.