United States Representative Denny Heck announced today that he will leave Congress at the end of his term and pass the honor of representing Washington’s 10th Congressional District in the House to someone new.
“Being away so much from Paula, my best friend and wife of nearly forty-four years, can be lonely even when I am in a crowded room. At our age, however many ‘good years’ we have left together is not a growing number,” Heck wrote in a letter released by his office and published on Medium.
“In the spirit of complete openness, part of me is also discouraged. The countless hours I have spent in the investigation of Russian election interference and the impeachment inquiry have rendered my soul weary.”
“I will never understand how some of my colleagues, in many ways good people, could ignore or deny the President’s unrelenting attack on a free press, his vicious character assassination of anyone who disagreed with him, and his demonstrably very distant relationship with the truth,” Heck added.
“Congressman Denny Heck is a cherished Member of our Democratic Caucus and a critical force in the Congress for the economic and national security of the American people,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “His years of leadership in Washington State and in Washington, D.C. have strengthened America, and his guidance and friendship will be missed by his many friends in the Congress.
“Since Day One, Congressman Heck has distinguished himself as a leader of outstanding integrity and character. A champion of education and opportunities for all, he came to Washington committed to lifting up hard-working families and small businesses, and his service on the Financial Services Committee has helped tilt the playing field back to the side of workers. His patriotism, passion and persistence have been critical to the Intelligence Committee’s work to keep America safe, particularly during this challenging time for our democracy.”
“In his retirement statement, Denny spoke with reverence of the great honor that Members have to hold power in trust on behalf of our constituents. Denny’s humility, integrity and absolute dedication to his district will continue to be a blessing to our institution and our nation for years to come. We thank his wife, Paula, and his sons, Bob and Trey, for sharing Denny with the Congress and the country, and wish them the best in all their future endeavors.”
“I just spoke to Denny and thanked him for his tireless advocacy on behalf of the people of the 10th Congressional District,” said Governor Jay Inslee in a statement sent to NPI shortly after this post was initially published.
“No one is more dedicated to serving this region than Denny,” the Governor declared. “Without fail, anytime I attend an event in his district, Denny is there. His dedication and energy are unmatched, and he will be missed.”
“Denny has fought hard for a strong democracy, been a powerful voice at the national level and is never afraid to do what’s right. Here at home, Washingtonians will benefit for generations from his remarkable leadership on recovering the Puget Sound, reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank and so many other issues.
“No matter what he does next, one thing is for sure – the Congressional Record will be shorter without him. I wish Denny the very best in his retirement and hope he has the opportunity to spend more time in the real Washington, enjoying the people and places he’s fought so hard for in Thurston, Pierce and Mason Counties.”
“Denny Heck is a good, kind and decent man who – over four decades – served our state and our nation with honor and distinction,” said Representative Prama Jayapal, who joined the House of Representatives four years after Heck did.
“I am proud to have been his colleague and am particularly grateful for his stewardship of Washington state’s natural resources, most notably his efforts to restore the Puget Sound. I will miss his guidance and friendship, but I wish him and his family great happiness in the years ahead.”
Heck has represented Washington’s 10th District in Congress since it was created in the last round of redistricting. The district encompasses much of the South Sound area, including the state’s capital of Olympia and southern Pierce County. While not a liberal bastion like Washington’s 7th or 9th, the 10th is reliably Democratic, so Heck’s retirement should not alter the partisan makeup of the state’s delegation.
Especially given that he’s retiring in a presidential cycle.
Democratic strategists prefer that Democratic officeholders retire in presidential cycles because an open seat is easier to defend in a high turnout election, whether it’s in Congress, a state Legislature, or a local government.
A number of Democratic legislators live in Washington’s 10th District and several of them will undoubtedly now begin contemplating a bid for Congress.
In 2012, when Norm Dicks opted to retire, State Senator Derek Kilmer was able to clear the field and run a low-drama campaign. Will the same thing happen this time around, or will multiple Democratic contenders square off in the Top Two?