WASHINGTON, D.C. — Mike McIntyre, a Lumberton native who has served in the U.S. Congress since 1997, has announced that he will retire at the end of his current term.
McIntyre, who first won election in 1996, will have served nine terms as the 7th District representative when he leaves office early in 2015. The district includes a small part of Robeson County.
He office released the following statement, which is published in full.
“In eastern North Carolina, we have demonstrated that public service is a partnership between the people and the representative they entrust to speak on their behalf.
“For us, this has been where the priorities of policy over politics, issues over ideology, dialogue over dollars, and cooperation over campaigning have prevailed.
“Having answered the call entrusted through this partnership, I will be retiring from the U.S. House of Representatives at the end of this term.
“This partnership has transcended politics and allowed us to accomplish monumental tasks, such as quadrupling the number of veterans’ clinics in our area, passing the tobacco buyout, expanding our military bases, establishing an economic commission to promote jobs and fight poverty—and ensuring that the North Carolina coast will continue to be an economic engine and environmental treasure.
“We also have built new fire and police stations, town halls, and workforce development centers; opened new farmers’ markets and senior centers; improved airports and the Wilmington Port; and expanded educational and recreational opportunities for our children and youth.
“We have helped thousands of constituents from all walks of life in ways that have significantly impacted their lives.
“None of this could have been accomplished without the strong commitment of my family, the hard work of my staff, and — especially — the willingness of people throughout our region to put partisanship aside and work together to get things done for the betterment of eastern North Carolina.
“Indeed, I am grateful to all of the Democrats, Republicans, and Independents with whom we have successfully worked through nine elections over 18 years.
“My family and I are ready for a new chapter and excited about new opportunities to continue helping North Carolina.
“My prayer is that those in public service will always put the people they represent first and that God’s blessings will continue to be upon the great citizens of the Seventh Congressional District who live, work, worship, play, serve, and retire in eastern North Carolina.”
McIntyre, a lawyer who graduated from Lumberton High School and the University of North Carolina, first won election in the 1996 General Election in a close race. At the time, the 7th District included all of Robeson County.
However, when Republicans won the North Carolina General Assembly, the 7th District was redrawn and only included part of Robeson County and none of McIntyre’s hometown, Lumberton, which vote strongly Democratic. He won a close re-election in 2012 over Republican challenger David Rouzer from Johnson County and his seat had been targeted this year by the National Republican Party as one that is vulnerable as the GOP tries to expand control of the U.S. House.
Rouzer issued a statement Wednesday afternoon lauding McIntyre for his service.
“I have genuine respect and appreciation for the work Congressman Mike McIntyre and his staff have done to help countless individuals across Southeastern North Carolina,” said Rouzer, who plans to run again for the 7th District. “He has been a tireless advocate for the local needs of the district during his time in office, and I personally appreciate his strong devotion to the Christian Faith.”
McIntyre’s tenure in Congress also drew praise from fellow Democrats across the state.
North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller called McIntyre a champion for the 7th District.
“For over 18 years, Congressman McIntyre has served eastern North Carolina with honor and distinction in the U.S. House,” Voller said. “From championing economic development for the region, to fighting on behalf of our brave men and women in uniform, Congressman McIntyre has made the people of his district and North Carolina proud.”
Voller added that McIntyre “transcended politics as usual.”
“(He) produced real results for the people of the Seventh Congressional District,” Voller said. “We look forward to supporting Mike in this new chapter and thank him and his family for their service and advocacy on behalf of our state.”
Bo Biggs, who serves as legislative chairman for the Lumberton Area Chamber of Commerce, said the announcement took him by surprise.
“There was no doubt that his next election was going to be a gruelling one,” Biggs said. “Winning re-election would have been tough, but I still think Mike has a lot of good will in the District and may have been able to pull it off.”
Biggs said that he has not spoken to McIntyre, but suspects that there may be a federal judgeship in his future.
“Whatever happens, it will be a loss for Robeson County,” he said. “With way these lines are drawn, it will be longtime before someone from our county can run and win a congressional seat. It was nice while we had Mike McIntyre.”
The Robesonian will continue to update this story.