LUMBERTON — U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre says he made his decision not to seek a 10th term in Congress after consulting with family members.
“Over the holidays my family and I had time to reflect, and we realized how blessed we have been, and that we are ready for a new chapter in this New Year,” McIntyre said.
McIntyre, a Lumberton native and one of the last conservative “blue dog Democrats” in the Congress, rocked the local political scene on Wednesday when he surprisingly announced he would not be running for another two-year term. Having first won election to the 7th District seat in 1996, he will have served as the district’s representative for 18 years when he leaves office in early 2015.
“The decision was a personal and professional one that my family and I made after much prayer and discussion,” he said. “We are excited about new possibilities in the future.”
But McIntyre is not showing his full hand.
“We still have a year left in Congress, and I’m looking forward to finishing out my time in Washington the same way we’ve spent the last 17 years — by faithfully representing the values and priorities of the people of the Seventh District of North Carolina.”
According to McIntyre, he and his family had to “make this important threshold decision on retirement” before considering future options.
“Now that decision has been made, we’re free to weigh future opportunities from both the private and public sector,” he said. “One thing is for certain. Whatever the future holds, we want to continue to find new ways to serve the people of North Carolina.”
When asked about high points in his career, McIntyre unfolds a laundry list of initiatives he has pursued in his efforts to improve the lives of his constituents.
“Over the course of my time in Congress we have been blessed with many victories as we’ve worked to improve the every-day lives of our constituents — from quadrupling the number of veterans clinics in our district to co-authoring the tobacco buyout which has pumped $4 billion into our state’s economy,” he said. “From creating jobs through workforce and business development centers, like the ones at Robeson County Community College and UNCP, to helping from the federal level several community initiatives.”
McIntyre said that other high points in his career was to help Lumberton get a new police station; assist in obtaining funding for renovations at the Robeson County Courthouse; and playing a part in helping obtain federal assistance for construction of new city halls in both Lumberton and Pembroke. He also helped shepherd through federal assistance for improvements at the Robeson County Public Library and Carolina Civic Center, as well as for the upgrading of Interstate 74, the creation of a heart center at Southeastern Regional Medical Center and funding for fire stations throughout the county.
Expanding the African American Cultural Center, passage of the federal Lumbee Recognition Bill twice in the House, and technology advancements in county schools were also highlights of his congressional career, McIntyre said.
McIntyre, 57, is a lawyer who graduated from Lumberton High School and the University of North Carolina. His decision to retire now puts the race for the 7th District up in the air.
When Republicans gained control of the state General Assembly, the 7th District was redrawn to only include a small part of Robeson County. As a result, in 2012 McIntyre barely won re-election, by about 600 votes, over Republican challenger David Rouzer from Johnston County. The race was the closet in the country for the U.S. House.
The 7th District seat is being targeted by the National Republican Party as the GOP tries to expand its control of the U.S. House.
Some political pundits believe McIntyre might make a run for governor in North Carolina.