WASHINGTON — Rep. David Hobson, a nine-term Republican from Springfield, announced Sunday plans to retire, the 12th member of his party to do so since the beginning of the year.
“I wanted to go out on top,” said Hobson, who said his health is good. He would have faced token opposition at best had he sought a new term.
The 71-year-old Hobson became the third member of the Ohio delegation to announce retirement plans. Canton-area Rep. Ralph Regula, who has been in Congress since 1973, announced Friday he will not run again. Rep. Deborah Pryce, who narrowly won re-election in her Columbus-area district in 2006, said in August that her current term will be her last.
Republican state Sen. David Austria said he would announce today his candidacy for Hobson’s Republican-leaning, west-central Ohio seat.
“My plans are to run and to continue to get Dave’s advice and continue his projects,” Austria said. “Dave has been a mentor to me through my service in public office. He’ll be missed.”
Ohio GOP Chairman Bob Bennett said Hobson’s announcement was not a surprise. Pryce, Regula and Hobson have given the party and potential candidates plenty of lead time to prepare for next year’s elections, he said.
Messages seeking comment on Hobson’s announcement were left Sunday with Ohio Democratic Party officials.
Hobson has had no difficulty prevailing in his district, and it was not immediately clear how strong an effort Democrats might mount for the seat.
Hobson served two terms from his district before Republicans gained control of the House in 1994. His seniority soon enabled him to become one of the so-called cardinals, chairmen of Appropriations subcommittee with great authority over selected programs.
He served as chairman of the panel with jurisdiction over military housing, then over energy and water programs until Democrats gained their majority last year.
Hobson has a moderate to conservative, pro-business voting record. Most recently, he supported an expansion of children’s health care that most Republicans opposed and that President Bush subsequently vetoed.
Hobson announced his retirement plans in a speech in his home district. In a telephone interview, he said he had been thinking about retiring for quite a while, and “almost did not run last year.”
Republicans have been working to hold down the number of retirements in advance of the 2008 elections, when they will be attempting to regain the majority they lost in 2006.