This morning Congressman Norm Dicks (D)-WA announced he is retiring from politics in the fall. Dicks has represented most of Washington west of Seattle since 1977. Dicks was a powerful force in the House Appropriations Committee.
In a statement released this morning, the Congressman explained he and his wife decided to "change gears and enjoy life at a different pace."
Dicks is 71 and has served in government for more than half his life. He worked for Warren G. Magnuson for 8 years, followed by Congress for 36 years (18 terms) in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The 2010 Census changed the political landscape for Congress. Many members have announced retirements since redistricting maps were finalized (Dicks is the 3rd member of Congress to retire in 4 days), but re-election probably did not factor into Dicks' decision to retire because his district mostly remained intact, voting 57% for Obama in 2008.
Congressman Dicks' retirement surprised Democrats. Nobody was exactly 'waiting in the wings' for a vacancy. So just looking at existing legislators in the district, State Sen. Derek Kilmer (D) is the most likely candidate.
Dicks hails from Bremerton. He played football for the University of Washington in the 1961 Rose Bowl before earning degrees in Political Science and Law. Dicks was known as a political insider and got along well with his fellow committee members. In his statement he touched on these friendships and his faith in cooperation:
I am proud that many of these friendships have crossed the ideological and party lines that tend to separate us, and I have always believed that we can achieve greater results if we leave politics aside when the election season and the floor debates are over.