Some in the area were stunned, others were not, with the announcement that Mike McIntyre will not seek a 10th term as the U.S. House representative for the 7th District.
We will hold most of our applause for when he actually leaves office, but today we will go a few steps down that road by saying McIntyre has been a strong and effective advocate for this region — although as a moderate Democrat, an endangered species, he has in recent years been swimming in shark-filled waters.
The Lumberton native cited personal reasons for his decision to retire from political office, which only ensures conjecture.
McIntyre, who was raising money for re-election in late December, would have faced a difficult campaign. After enjoying a series of landslide victories following his initial election in 1996, he won close races in 2010 and again in 2012, when his margin of victory, about 600 votes, was the closest of any congressional race in the country.
Had he run this year, he would have almost certainly faced a rematch with state Sen. David Rouzer. Rouzer would have enjoyed plenty of resources from the National Republican Party, which has targeted the 7th District seat in an effort to pad the GOP’s majority in the U.S. House.
McIntyre, we believe, was probably also pushed toward leaving Congress by the redrawing of congressional districts, which robbed him of plenty of votes in his home county, but also limited his ability to work on behalf of his native Robeson County, which we believe led him to Washington, D.C., in the first place.
There are plenty of rumblings that McIntyre’s political days are not numbered, and that he is considering a run for the governor’s office or perhaps the U.S. Senate — both of which have been rumored over the past few years.
With McIntyre’s departure from Congress, it could be a long time or never again until a U.S. congressman has such a keen interest in working on behalf of this county, where McIntyre now has his congressional office.
He has a year remaining on his term and more work to do. When the time comes McIntyre will be missed aplenty and, depending on who replaces him, perhaps even more so.