As expected, U.S. Rep. Marion Berry, 67, announced his intention not to seek re-election this year. Friends say he's tired, has suffered health problems in the past and thought about retiring two years ago. He's said not to be happy that his retirement will be cast by some as running from a fight, but he said he's "at perfect peace" with the decision.
He announced in a brief prepared statement:
Washington, D.C. – After serving Arkansas’s First Congressional District for 7 terms, Congressman Marion Berry (D-AR, 1st) announced today in the following statement that he would not seek reelection in 2010.
“Since 1997, the people of the First Congressional District of Arkansas have entrusted me to serve them in Washington. It has been an honor I have never taken for granted and for their support I will be eternally grateful. After much prayer and consideration, I have decided it is time for me to return home to Arkansas. The people deserve a representative who has the ability to rise to the numerous challenges that face our state and our nation. As a lifelong farmer, time has taken its toll on my health and I am no longer able to serve the district with the vitality I once possessed. Therefore, I have decided not to seek reelection in 2010. I am at perfect peace with this decision and look forward to returning to the farm and my home state of Arkansas.”
During his time in Congress, Representative Berry has served on the House Agriculture Committee, the Budget Committee and in 2003 he was appointed to the House Appropriations Committee where he currently serves on the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Energy and Water, and Transportation Housing and Urban Development subcommittees.
Congressman Berry was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1996. Berry, a lifelong resident of Arkansas County, has been recognized for his effective leadership on a range of national issues while fulfilling his commitment to faithfully represent the citizens of the First Congressional District of Arkansas in Washington, D.C.
Let the political fun begin. Sen. Johnny Key of Mountain Home and Rep. Davy Carter of Cabot are looking hard at entering the Republican side of the race. Eleventeen Dems are similarly mulling.