OVERLAND PARK — Six-term U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore blasted "ungodly partisanship" in Washington but denied Tuesday that turmoil there and the prospect of a difficult re-election bid had anything to do with his decision to leave office after his current term ends in January 2011.
"I think I've had a tough re-election campaign every year," said Moore, 64, the only Democrat in the Kansas congressional delegation. "I'm not concerned about tough election campaigns."
The 3rd District representative said Tuesday at a news conference that health problems didn't play a role in his decision to retire, either. While he acknowledged being tired of flying between Kansas and Washington every weekend, and will be having surgery for a hernia soon, he said he feels fine.
Instead, he expressed frustration with the "ungodly partisanship" in the nation's capital.
"Eighty-five percent of what we do in Congress should not be about party," he said.
He also denied that his support for the Democratic health care reform bill, the stimulus package and global warming measures affected his decision. He was criticized this summer for not holding town hall meetings on health care reform like those conducted by his Republican counterparts.
Moore said the U.S. economy is slowly rebounding, though it's taking longer than people want.
"Things are on the mend," he said, "but there's still a lot of people hurting out there."
The former Johnson County district attorney represents a heavily Republican district in suburban Kansas City. He has won election six times by courting moderate Republicans and taking advantage of a longtime rift between the state GOP's conservative and moderate factions.
He said that when he was first elected to Congress in 1998, he intended to stay only about 10 years. He noted Tuesday that he is now in his 11th.
He called it the busiest, most intense year of his tenure, and said his decision had taken a huge weight off his shoulders.
"This has been the most exciting and frustrating job I have ever had," he said.
At least six Republicans have expressed an interest in the 3rd District seat, including former state Sen. Nick Jordan, whom Moore beat in 2008 with 56 percent of the vote.
Moore said he thinks the Democrats will come up with a viable candidate to replace him, and the race will be more competitive than people think.