Delahunt won’t seek re-election
By John P. Kelly - The Patriot Ledger - March 4, 2010
Fourteen years after William Delahunt survived a grueling race to win election to Congress, the Quincy Democrat is announcing that he will not seek an eighth term in November’s election.
“I think Democrats are going to have to work overtime to retain the seat,” said Philip W. Johnston, a powerhouse among South Shore Democrats, who lost the 1996 primary to Delahunt after two recounts and a judicial order.
Delahunt’s retirement comes as Massachusetts Republicans are emboldened by newly elected U.S. Sen. Scott Brown’s underdog victory in January over Attorney General Martha Coakley.
Nowhere was Brown’s support stronger than in Delahunt’s 10th Congressional District, which covers the South Shore to Cape Cod and the Islands. Brown captured 60 percent of the district’s vote in the special election, carrying every community from Quincy to Eastham on Cape Cod.
Johnston said Republican energy flowing from Brown’s election “presents a very serious challenge to our party,” especially for a congressional seat in a “swing district” like the 10th.
Delahunt hinted weeks ago he was considering making this his final term. Within both parties, the rare prospect of an up-for-grabs congressional seat has set political heartbeats racing.
Several potential candidates have already emerged.
Delahunt has not publicly announced his future plans. But at 68, the next 10 months could be the cap to a political career spanning nearly 40 years.
As a young lawyer in 1971, Delahunt was elected to the Quincy City Council. After a single term, he was elected to the state’s House of Representatives, which he also left after two years to become Norfolk County district attorney, a position he held for 21 years.
In Congress, Delahunt sits on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and is known for, among other things, pushing for reassessments of the country’s policies in Latin America, including an effort to lift travel restrictions on American travel to Cuba.
Delahunt has been closely involved in the redevelopment of the South Weymouth Naval Air Station. He campaigned passionately, though unsuccessfully, for clemency to be granted to Pvt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III, a Plymouth Marine serving an 11-year prison sentence for killing an Iraqi man in 2006.
Delahunt has come under recent scrutiny for his handling as district attorney of a 1986 shooting in Braintree involving Amy Bishop, the woman now charged in an Alabama triple homicide. He told reporters last month the case would have no bearing on his political future.
Senator John Kerry said Delahunt’s departure will create “a void” in the place of Delahunt’s “incredibly strong voice for Massachusetts.”
“But even as a public servant who cared about the world, Bill’s compass was always set by Quincy,” Kerry said in a statement. “He could always tell you the latest buzz from his coffee shop at home and what a barometer that was. It kept him grounded in peoples’ lives.”
This announcement comes less than a week after a much advertised meeting featuring Congressman Delahunt. The meeting in Quincy, MA was sponsored by the ILIR to inform the undocumented Irish community and their supporters in the Boston area of the current status of immigration reform in the U.S. Congress. Despite the optimism on the part of the sponsors, Congressman Delahunt, to his credit, was very candid in his assessment of the situation and conveyed to those present that he felt that it was unlikely that any significant changes in immigration policy could be expected this year. As a constituent in Congressman Delahunt’s district, I would like to thank him for his service and offer my best wishes to him in all of his future endeavors.
Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America