The Campaign Spot

Another House Democrat Retirement?

I said to a Republican the other day, “Hey, aren’t we due for another surprise retirement for a Democrat?”

Yup.

Rep. Eric Massa is poised to announce this afternoon that he will not seek re-election in the 29th Congressional District this fall as planned, a Democratic source confirms.

The freshman congressman is going to make his announcement at 3 p.m., according to the source. It’s unclear if that event is taking place in the district or in Wahsington, D.C. A call to Massa’s spokesman has so far not been returned.

UPDATE: Massa’s office says he will be speaking with the press on a “very important” conference call at 3:30 p.m. He’s in Washington.

Massa is calling around the district to inform party leaders and supporters of his decision.

The source said he assumed that Massa’s move is “health related,” but said the congressman also gave him a rather nebulous warning that he would be “hearing things that aren’t true.”

Sources close to the congressman say there has been talk of an ethics investigation, but a staffer in Massa’s district office contacted yesterday insisted he had no knowledge of that.

The former US Navy officer received a diagnosis of terminal cancer while serving as as the Special Assistant to the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, General Wesley Clark, during the Bosnian conflict, according to the bio on his Web site. He returned to the US to undergo treatment, survived and is “completely cured.”

Here’s hoping it isn’t health. Massa is another New York Democrat who won by a narrow margin, 2 percent, and he’s been feeling the heat at his town-hall meetings. Corning mayor Tom Reed is his likely opponent, and has been hammering away on the perception that the stimulus is an expensive failure in a region with lingering economic troubles . . .