U.S. Representative Jim McDermott, 79, announced Monday that he won’t run for re-election in 2016. McDermott was a staunch supporter of LGBT rights in Washington state.
“I leave Congress with no regrets,” McDermott said during a press conference. “This was not an easy decision to make, because I don’t like to quit. There are things I still want to do, see happen, but there’s a time that comes and you say, ‘enough.’”
Support flooded in from lawmakers across the country following McDermott’s disclosure.
“For more than 40 years, Jim McDermott has worked tirelessly on behalf of the people of Washington state,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. “As a state legislator, he helped pass laws that offered health care to unemployed and low-income Washingtonians, the first such program in the nation. In the United States Congress, he continued to be a much-needed voice for his most vulnerable constituents. Across America, you’ll find families that are better off because Jim McDermott was fighting for them. I’m grateful for Jim’s service, and Michelle and I wish him all the best in whatever the future holds.”
Governor Jay Inslee said, “Jim has been a bold and progressive voice throughout his four decades of service in Congress. He has capably represented Seattle on a long list of important issues including health care reform and his very vocal opposition to the Iraq War. His storied career is one Seattle will recall for years to come.”
“I have enormous respect for Congressman Jim McDermott,” King County Councilmember Joe McDermott said. “Whether it was tackling the HIV/AIDS crisis or Congressman McDermott’s long-term advocacy for health care reform, he has been a true champion for progressive causes. I was honored to receive a call from him yesterday so I could express my appreciation personally.”
Joe, 48, is a third-generation resident of West Seattle, where he lives with his husband Michael. He was elected to the King County Council in 2010 after serving the prior 10 years in both chambers of the Washington State Legislature. While they share the same last name, the two are not related.
“Since his announcement, I have received dozens of calls from constituents and local and national leaders encouraging me to seek this office. I will not take this decision lightly and will be discussing it with my husband and family over the next few days,” he said.
U.S. Senator Patty Murray said, “Our state and our country are healthier, better educated, and more progressive because of Jim McDermott’s career dedicated to improving the lives of others. Whether working as a doctor overseas, or leading the fight on progressive causes in the United States Congress, Jim is truly one of our country’s most passionate, fearless advocates for workers and families, and I’m proud to call him a colleague and friend. I’m especially inspired by his decades-long effort to ensure that every citizen in this country has access to affordable, high-quality health care, as well as his tireless work on behalf of the working class and underserved communities. Jim will be sorely missed in the United States Congress and I wish him the best.”
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray released his own statement, saying: “Congressman McDermott has been a fearless progressive voice for more than four decades, advocating for universal health care, reforming foster care and investing in global health. He was one of the few principled members of Congress to actively oppose the invasion of Iraq.”
Murray continued, “As the first Democrat elected from Seattle’s 43rd District to the state Legislature, he was a visionary leader in Olympia who helped create what is now known as Washington’s Basic Health Plan. He was the first legislator from the 43rd to be elected by the people of the 7th Congressional District, and has been a distinguished public servant for the people of Seattle and Washington state.”