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Chairman of House Armed Services Panel Will Retire

April 27, 2002|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Rep. Bob Stump, the Arizona Republican who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, said Friday he has "serious health problems" and won't seek a 14th term this fall.

Stump released a statement announcing his decision. He did not elaborate on the nature of the illness and has told his staff nothing further about his condition, said his chief of staff, Lisa Atkins.

"Recently, I learned that I have some serious health problems and have been undergoing tests," Stump said. "For that reason, I have decided not to seek reelection and will return to farming at the end of this term."

Stump, 75, was elected to the House as a Democrat in 1976. He changed parties in 1981 after voting for President Reagan's tax cuts and has been reelected 10 times since by comfortable margins.

A consistent supporter of increased military and veterans' spending, he took over the Armed Services chairmanship last year and has used his position to push for President Bush's missile defense plan, a pay raise for military personnel and $2 billion in additional military construction.

In three terms as chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, he pressed for health benefits and college assistance for veterans.

Stump has only a skeleton staff, no press secretary and sometimes answers his own office phone.

"He always shunned the limelight, but got the job done," said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.). "As Bob returns full time to Arizona, he will leave a lasting impression in Washington as an effective legislator and a distinguished public servant."

Stump angered immigrant groups with legislation to make English the official language for government business and to change laws so children born in the U.S. to noncitizen parents would not be U.S. citizens. Neither bill became law.

He also sponsored legislation and was a leading advocate for the construction of a World War II memorial on the National Mall.

Stump is the 18th Republican and 27th House member to announce retirement. Republicans hold a 222-211 advantage in the House, and GOP leaders are confident they can retain Stump's seat in the Republican-leaning district in northwestern Arizona.

Atkins announced Friday that she would run for her boss' seat, and Stump endorsed her. Two Democrats have announced, and others from both parties are expected to enter the race.

Stump also served multiple terms in the Arizona House of Representatives and the state Senate.

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