Image: William Delahunt
Steven Senne  /  AP
U.S. Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass., speaks during a news conference in Quincy, Mass. The seven-term congressman told The Boston Globe Thursday that he will not seek re-election.
updated 3/4/2010 9:25:25 PM ET 2010-03-05T02:25:25

Massachusetts Rep. William Delahunt has decided not to run for re-election.

The seven-term Democrat told the Boston Globe that his decision had nothing to do with politics. He said he had been considering leaving for several years but was talked out of it by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, who urged him to help pass President Obama's first-term agenda.

"Life is about change," Delahunt told the Globe. "I think it's healthy. It's time."

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass, praised Delahunt's service to Massachusetts.

"This departure leaves a void because Bill Delahunt is an incredibly strong voice for Massachusetts in Washington," Kerry said in a statement reacting to Delahunt's retirement.

Delahunt has come under fire in Massachusetts recently for his handling of a 1986 shooting by Amy Bishop, a University of Alabama professor accused of killing three colleagues this year. At the time of the 1986 shooting, Delahunt was the local district attorney and he accepted the findings of the local and state police that Bishop's shooting of her brother was accidental.

Delahunt's retirement creates a rare open congressional seat in Massachusetts.

Delahunt, 68, has served in Congress since 1997, but Massachusetts and the political world were stunned in January when a little-known Republican state senator, Scott Brown, upset Democrat Martha Coakley to win the Senate seat held by nearly a half-century by Kennedy.

Delahunt was facing potential challenges from Republicans who have been heartened by Brown's victory in the Democrat-dominated state. Brown won Delahunt's district, which includes Cape Cod and the South Shore area.

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