Ariz. Rep. Kolbe Won’t Seek Re-Election
PHOENIX (AP) _ Rep. Jim Kolbe, a leading proponent of free trade and the only openly gay Republican in Congress, has decided not to seek a 12th term next year, associates said Wednesday.
GOP state Sen. Toni Hellon said the 63-year-old Arizona congressman told her of his intention to leave Congress and ``do other things.″ Another political associate, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Kolbe has not yet announced his decision, also said Kolbe had decided not to seek re-election.
Kolbe often disagrees with his party on gay rights issues. He reluctantly acknowledged in 1996 that he is gay, beating to the punch a national gay magazine that planned to do an article on him after he voted against federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
Kolbe is a strong proponent of free trade and a guest-worker program for immigrants. He is popular in his southeastern Arizona district, which includes part of Tucson and its northern suburbs. He captured 61 percent of the vote in 2004.
Kolbe has served as chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations and export financing, a critical position in determining foreign aid.
He was first elected to Congress in 1984, when he defeated Democratic Rep. Jim McNulty.
Associated Press writer Arthur Rotstein in Tucson contributed to this report.