Politics & Government

Rep. Pastor to retire from Congress

U.S. Congressman Ed Pastor, an 11-term Democrat who became the first Hispanic from Arizona elected to the U.S. Congress, will retire at the end of this term, his office said on Thursday.

Pastor, 70, is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and is the ranking member of the subcommittee on transportation. His term finishes in early January 2015.

“After 23 years in Congress, I feel it's time for me to seek out a new endeavor,” Pastor said in a statement. “It's been a great honor, a great experience and a great joy for me to serve in Congress. I think it's time for me to do something else.”

Pastor, who did not elaborate further as to why he was retiring, becomes the 38th member of the current U.S. House of Representatives to announce plans to leave by the end of this term, which finishes in early January 2015. The departing group has 21 Republicans and 17 Democrats.

Republicans currently control the House with 232 seats to 199 for the Democrats with four vacancies.

Pastor first won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in a special election in 1991 to replace then-Congressman Mo Udall, a Democrat who resigned because of health problems. Before that, Pastor was a Maricopa County supervisor since 1976.

His heavily Democratic and mostly Hispanic Arizona congressional district includes most of metropolitan Phoenix, south Glendale and the town of Guadalupe.

A number of potential candidates for Congress had been waiting for Pastor to eventually step aside, and one state lawmaker quickly indicated his plans to run for the seat.

Arizona State Representative Ruben Gallego, a Democrat, said in a Twitter message, “I am in for Congress.”

An official in his legislative office confirmed Gallego meant he will run for Pastor's seat.

(Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; editing by Cynthia Johnston, Diane Craft and G Crosse)