Washington -- In an announcement that surprised even Democrats, Rep. Eric Massa (D-29) declared Wednesday that he will not seek re-election. He explained that in December he suffered his third cancer reoccurrence, calling the experience "intense and personal."
"I'm a guy who has always moved 100 miles per hour," Massa said in a conference call that was flooded with reporters from across the country. "My doctors have made it clear that I can't go 100 miles per hour anymore."
Massa declined questions, reading only a brief statement. He did, however, take a shot at what he called "unsubstantiated reporting," referring to a report on the website Politico indicating Massa was dropping out because he'd been accused of sexual harassment by a male staff member.
"Do I, occasionally, use salty language when at home or in private? Yes, and I have apologized for that," he said. But he said that poorly-sourced reporting and rumor-mongering is "a symptom of what is wrong with this city."
He ended by saying he would "remain fully committed to helping families of the 29th District," though he did not explain how he would do so.
Massa won election in 2008 when he defeated incumbent Republican Randy Kuhl.
Kuhl said, "I have been approached by many people wondering if I will run for Congress again. That's something I will consider and think about down the line, but for now I...wish Rep. Massa the very best, and say that my thoughts are on his health and full recovery."
Statement from Congressman Eric Massa
This last December I underwent my third major cancer recurrence scare. I kept this private only to members of my immediate family. I did not tell my staff. It was a very intense and personal experience especially in light of having gone through this before. I am a direct, salty guy who runs at 100 mph and my doctors have now clearly told me that I can no longer do that. It is only fair and right that I announce that I will not run again in time for others to consider a run for this office. I will now enter a final phase of my life at a more controlled pace and remained fully committed to helping the families of the 29th District.
There are blogs that are saying that I am leaving because of charges of harassing my staff. Do I and have I used salty language? Yes, and I have tried to do better. But these blogs are a symptom of the problem in this city and I no longer have the life’s energy to fight every battle. I make this decision based on being a cancer survivor who, following the advice of my doctors in Washington and in New York, cannot and will not prevent others from serving in the Congress that I hold in such great esteem.