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New York Democratic Rep Nita Lowey Announces Unexpected Retirement

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) on Capitol Hill, January 30, 2019. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Longtime Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D., N.Y.) unexpectedly announced her retirement on Thursday. First elected in 1988, Lowey was the first woman to chair the House Appropriations Committee, and is a longtime ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“It is my deep honor and privilege to serve my community and my country, and I will always be grateful to the people who have entrusted me to represent them,” the congresswoman said in a statement. “I am proud of the help my office has provided to thousands of constituents on matters ranging from health insurance and veterans’ benefits to Social Security and student loans.”

Lowey was long regarded as a trailblazer and had never faced a primary challenger since winning her seat in 1988. A number of primary challengers had already lined up to challenge her in 2020, including Mondaire Jones, a 32-year-old Harvard Law graduate and DOJ employee under the Obama administration who has argued that the district needed more energy.

In an interview following the announcement, Ms. Lowey, who is Jewish, said the decision came after reflection during the High Holy Days, but claimed a primary challenge was a “ridiculous” reason to retire.

The move sparked speculation that Chelsea Clinton, who in the past has said a Hudson Valley office could be “the right choice for me,”  could be angling for a run at the vacancy.

On Thursday, The New York Post cited an unnamed source who said “there has been a lot of speculation within New York Democratic circles about Lowey’s retirement and Chelsea running for the seat. There is a belief that Chappaqua is a logical place for Chelsea to run, because it would be straightforward for her to raise money and build a powerful base.”

The Clinton family home base is located in the 17th district, and in August Clintons purchased a home next to the residence “which is intended for Chelsea”

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