Rep. Bill Owens, D-N.Y., is the latest lawmaker to announce he will not be seeking re-election in 2014, according to reports.
Three other Democrats have recently announced they are also stepping down, prompting Republicans to tout each event as proof their opponents are on their heels headed into the midterm election. Democrats, meanwhile, are predictably downplaying the significance. Several Republican lawmakers have also announced their intentions to retire as well.
"It has been an honor to serve with Bill Owens, someone who always put his constituents first and has been a tireless advocate for New Yorkers," said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel said in a release. "Bill has set an example by always coming together to solve problems and working together to create jobs. While Republicans are already fighting a bitter and divisive primary, I have no doubt that another commonsense Democrat will fill his shoes in this competitive district that Democrats have held for the past three elections."
Israel's Republican counterpart, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden, charged that Owens' retirement was a "massive blow" to Democrats' chances of retaking the House. Republicans currently have a 17-seat advantage in the body. Owens, who narrowly won re-election in 2012, represents a large portion of upstate New York and his district is considered competitive.
"Clearly vulnerable Democrats would rather exit Congress voluntarily than be forced out by voters because of their support for Obamacare and other disastrous Democrat economic policies," Walden said in a statement. "If Democrats in swing districts like the 21st District of New York are heading for the hills, the chances of Nancy Pelosi becoming speaker of the House have been downgraded again."
Owens first won his seat in a special election in 2009, replacing incumbent Republican John McHugh, who left to become Secretary of the Army.