Rep. Marion Berry to Retire

Posted January 24, 2010 at 6:16pm

Rep. Marion Berry (D-Ark.) is expected to announce his retirement Monday, Democrats on Capitol Hill confirmed on Sunday evening.

Berry would be the sixth House Democrat in a competitive district to announce retirement plans in the past two months, further dispiriting a party that has suffered a series of political setbacks recently.

Berry ran unopposed in 2008, even as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was winning his Northeast Arkansas district by 21 points in the White House election. But Berry, who faced a potentially tough challenge from agricultural broadcaster Rick Crawford (R), had in recent weeks sounded ambivalent about whether he would seek an eighth term.

Democratic strategists have identified state Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, former Arkansas Democratic Chairman Jason Willett, and Chad Causey, a former Berry staffer, as potential candidates to replace him. And it is entirely likely that Berry’s departure will draw additional Republican candidates into the race.

Ken Spain, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said the message from last week’s special Senate election in Massachusetts is being borne out in Berry’s district: “No Democrat is safe.”

“Even veteran Democrat incumbents who were once perceived to be entrenched in their districts no longer have the stomach to face the voters they have infuriated by ignoring the will of the people and rubber-stamping the Obama-Pelosi agenda of government takeovers and fewer jobs,” Spain said.