PLATTSBURGH — Congressman Bill Owens surprised many in the North Country political world Tuesday when he announced he will not seek re-election this year.
“This is a decision we (he and his family) came to as a group, and it is one I am very comfortable with, and it is a road I need to take in my life right now,” Owens told reporters in a telephone news conference Tuesday afternoon.
Owens, 64, said he has no health issues that prompted the move; it was something he had been thinking about for the past six weeks.
He said he had several conversations with his family and after the holidays made his decision.
“I decided to do it now before the campaign season gets going,” he said.
‘TIME TO MOVE ON’
Owens has been the target of heavy criticism from Republicans for supporting the Affordable Health Care Act since he took office in late 2009.
He has also been frustrated with Congress’s inability to approve a long-term Farm Bill.
But the rigors of Washington politics weren’t critical components of his decision not to run, he said.
“Clearly, there has been some level of frustration with these kinds of issues, but that is not a driving force here.”
Owens also said the prospect of facing yet another grueling campaign was not a factor in his decision.
“I am not afraid of another fight, but I’ve decided it is time to move on.”
Owens said he spoke with Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Steve Israel, who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, about his retirement, and he was planning to make the announcement on Wednesday.
But the news was leaked Tuesday to the “avaricious” media, he said, which prompted him to make his decision public a day earlier.
‘NOT THE BEST DAY’