House Science Panel Chair Is Retiring

Jeff tries to explain how government works to readers of Science.

The chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee announced today that he won't seek re-election next year. Representative Bart Gordon (D–TN), who joined the committee as a freshman in 1985 and has been chair since 2007, was one of the biggest supporters of research in the U.S. House of Representatives. After years of easy wins, Gordon was facing a tough campaign to hold onto a district in which Republican John McCain won 62% of the vote in the 2008 presidential election.

“Turning 60 has led me to do some thinking about what’s next," said Gordon in a statement released this morning.  "I have an 8-year-old daughter and a wonderful wife who has a very demanding job, and I am the only child of my 83-year-old mother Margaret.  They have made sacrifices to allow me to do what I love by serving Congress, and now it’s my turn.”

Gordon's surprise announcement is the latest in a series of recent retirements by veteran Democrats in swing districts. That list includes Representative Brian Baird (D–WA), chair of the science panel's environmental subcommittee, who will be stepping after 12 years in Congress.