WASHINGTON Rep. Ralph Regula, an Ohio Republican who has served in the House for 35 years, is expected to announce tomorrow that he will retire at the end of his term, GOP operatives said today.
Regula, 82, is the dean of Ohio s congressional delegation and the No. 3 Republican on the powerful Appropriations Committee. He has held his seat since 1973.
Regula s retirement has been long anticipated and he has begun informing congressional colleagues of his decision, said a senior Republican in the state and aides to GOP colleagues. They requested anonymity in order to speak candidly about the matter.
A Regula spokesman did not return calls seeking comment.
Regula s departure magnifies the headaches confronting House Republicans in their uphill quest to retake the House.
Regula would be the 11th Republican to exit the House. While his Canton-anchored district is traditionally Republican, Democrats made gains in last year s elections. President Bush won 54 percent of the vote in 2004, but Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland easily carried it in winning office last year.
Regula is an old-school lawmaker whose moderate views on federal spending in general and social programs in particular sometimes put him at odds with conservatives that have dominated party leadership ranks since the mid-1990s. He lost a 2005 bid to become Appropriations Committee chairman to a more junior rival.
Regula was a key player in creating the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio. He used his leadership post on the panel that funds national parks to pass new user fees to dedicate more than $1 billion to improve facilities.
He recently voted with Democrats to expand the State Children s Health Insurance program despite Bush s veto threat and has broken with his party on trade and increasing the minimum wage.
Three-term Democratic Ohio state Rep. John Boccieri, a Strickland ally, is running to succeed Regula as are several Republicans.
The congressman is expected to make a formal announcement tomorrow.
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