Democratic Rep. Jerry Costello's decision not to run for reelection… (Charles Dharapak / Associated…)
The longest-serving member of the Illinois delegation in the House says he’s calling it quits, giving an opening for Republican gains in the state.
Rep. Jerry Costello, a Democrat from the southwest Illinois, said he won’t seek reelection next year, citing others pursuits.
"I said when I was elected in 1988 and many times since that I did not intend to stay in Congress forever as I had other interests that I wanted to pursue," Costello said in a statement, adding that he wouldn’t be retiring.
"You can't go from 100 mph everyday and just stop - I intend to continue to go full speed pursuing other interests and opportunities that may come along," he said.
Costello was praised by colleagues from both parties for his work on transportation issues and improving public education in the area.
Republicans signaled they saw an opportunity.
"Jerry Costello saw the writing on the wall and knew that he couldn't defend his decades of job-destroying policies that have made our economy worse," said Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. "After years of listening to Jerry Costello pay lip service to fiscal responsibility, Illinois working families will finally have the chance to elect a candidate that truly represents their values."
Democrats said they intend to hold the territory. Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, issued a statement noting that both President Obama and Sen. John Kerry, as the Democratic nominee for president in 2004, won the district.
"We look forward to electing a Democrat next November who will represent middle class families and fight to create local jobs and grow the economy," Israel said.