Hmmm: Rep. Steve Israel retires … to write novels

posted at 9:21 pm on January 5, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

As retirement excuses go, Steve Israel’s is novel … figuratively and literally. The rapid rise of Israel in House Democratic circles will come to an abrupt end in 2016, as the Long Island Democrat wants to trade writing legislation for writing fiction.

No, he means actual fiction:

Today, Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) announced that he will not seek reelection this November. He released the following statement:

“Nearly 16 years ago, I was honored to take the oath of office and stand on the House Floor for the first time. Now, I’ve decided to leave the House in 2017. I hope to continue to be involved in public service, but it is time for me to pursue new passions and develop new interests, mainly spend more time writing my second novel.

“I considered this decision deeply, but ultimately, I want to be a team player and ensure that my district, which is the only competitive district in House Democratic Leadership, remains in the hands of Democrats when I leave. The 2016 presidential turnout will help assure that. We’ve fought too hard for everyday Americans and against special interests to risk it.[“]

It seems a bit churlish to question an offered explanation to a retirement from Congress. After all, we appreciate the decision by an officeholder not to make it a lifetime occupation, especially (but not exclusively) with Democrats. Israel has certainly given enough of his time to this form of public service, having first taken office in 2001; he will have served eight terms in Congress. At age 58, though, he comes up short for a Congressional pension with less than twenty years served.

Still, something about this seems odd. Writing a book certainly takes up a significant amount of time, and Israel’s work in Congress might not leave a lot of time for book development. But it’s not impossible to write fiction while serving in Congress; Israel did it with his first novel The Global War on Morris, which came out a year ago and was presumably written while running the DCCC too, a role he gave up shortly after its release. Barbara Boxer also wrote a political novel while juggling her Senate duties, and others routinely write non-fiction books to extend their political arguments.

Israel’s star has risen in the Democratic caucus as a protege of Nancy Pelosi, and her upcoming retirement as caucus leader should give openings for Israel and others to move up. She set him up for future promotion in a role designed for Israel, the chair of policy and communications. Instead, just as the opportunity to move up appears … Israel decides to check out. That makes a decade or more of ambition and effort suddenly moot. Hmmm.

What are the prospects for Republicans? The Cook report for NY-03 has it as evenly split between registered Democrats and Republicans, but it has given Israel wide margins of victory thanks to a large contingent of independents and Israel’s ability to turn them out. Israel claimed in his statement that a presidential-cycle turnout would guarantee the seat would remain Democratic, but Israel actually outperformed Barack Obama in both elections in the district; Obama only won in 2012 by three points, while Israel won by 9. It looks more like Israel got Obama over the line than the other way around. Plus, George Bush won the district in 2004, which means it’s not necessarily a Democratic slam dunk in 2016 without Israel or Obama on the ticket.

That doesn’t make it a slam dunk for Republicans in either the House or presidential race, either. It’s not out of reach, but in both cases it will take a very good candidate to turn out independents that lean toward the GOP in greater numbers. Israel’s retirement, as puzzling as it is, gives Republicans an opportunity they probably never saw coming.


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Comments

To write fiction? Couldn’t he just write more laws, which our president views as fiction.

rbj on January 5, 2016 at 9:27 PM

Couldn’t he just write more laws, which our president views as fiction.

Sounds like a plan …

Ed Morrissey on January 5, 2016 at 9:29 PM

2016 US elections
4h
Editor’s note: The announcement that Rep. Steve Israel, D-NY, will not seek another term in Congress was not expected. He is the former chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and some believed he might be in line to succeed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., @ChadPergram reports. Israel, who is serving his eighth term, said he wants to spend more time writing his second novel. – Stephanie
End of note
==============

United States House of Representatives
4h
Rep. Steve Israel, D-NY, says he won’t seek re-election to 9th term – @schwartznewsNY
Read more on newsday.com

canopfor on January 5, 2016 at 9:30 PM

Given the track record of Democrats during the Obama Years, this is just choosing to get out before being PUSHED out.

Save me the “It’s a toss-up” district nonsense.

The Trump phenomenon is likely to encourage LOTS of elected officials to “get while the getting is good” … including some GOPe office holders.

PolAgnostic on January 5, 2016 at 9:31 PM

Couldn’t he just write more laws, which our president views as fiction.

Sounds like a plan …

Ed Morrissey on January 5, 2016 at 9:29 PM

ED M: Hopey has a plan????

(le sarc)

canopfor on January 5, 2016 at 9:31 PM

Someone probably has dirt on him and suggested he spend more time writing. People rarely leave the gravy train willingly.

Flange on January 5, 2016 at 9:31 PM

To write fiction? Couldn’t he just write more laws, which our president views as fiction.

rbj on January 5, 2016 at 9:27 PM

.
I’d suggest Obama views them as his departure point for doing exactly the opposite.

I think that excludes the fiction categorization.

PolAgnostic on January 5, 2016 at 9:33 PM

Well, as a progressive, I imagine his difficulties would be in writing nonfiction. Facts come hard to a Democrat.

Dolce Far Niente on January 5, 2016 at 9:33 PM

DRUM ROLL: Two Democrats inless than a day,
is it Christmas, yet agains.(Sarc)

Chad Pergram [email protected] Jan 4

Rep Jim McDermott (D-WA) retiring after 14 terms.

—————————————————–

Casualty List: 114th Congress (2015-2016)
Last Updated: Jan. 5, 2016
Running for Other Office – (2 House: 2D; 1 Senate: 1R)
House:
Senate:

John Carney, D-Del., 59, 3 terms
Janice Hahn, D-Calif., 63, 2 terms

Marco Rubio, R-Fla., 43, 1 term

Running for Senate – (14 House: 7D, 7R)
House:
Senate:

Charles Boustany Jr., R-La., 59, 6 terms
Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., 38, 2 terms
Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., 47, 2 terms
Donna Edwards, D-Md., 57, 5 terms
John Fleming, R-La., 64, 4 terms
Alan Grayson, D-Fla., 57, 3 terms (did not serve 2011-13)
Joe Heck, R-Nev., 54, 3 terms
David Jolly, R-Fla., 42, 1 term
Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., 65, 3 terms
Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., 32, 2 terms
Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., 55, 10 terms
Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., 39, 3 terms
Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., 56, 7 terms
Todd Young, R-Ind., 42, 3 terms

n/a

Retiring – (18 House: 12R, 6D; 5 Senate: 2R, 3D)
House:
Senate:

Dan Benishek, R-Mich., 63, 3 terms
Lois Capps, D-Calif., 77, 9 terms
Sam Farr, D-Calif., 74, 12 terms
Michael G. Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., 52, 4 terms
Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., 51, 3 terms
Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., 64, 3 terms
Rubén Hinojosa, D-Texas, 75, 10 terms
Robert Hurt, R-Va., 46, 3 terms
Steve Israel, D-N.Y., 57, 8 terms
John Kline, R-Minn., 68, 7 terms
Cynthia M. Lummis, R-Wyo., 61, 4 terms
Jim McDermott, D-Wash., 79, 14 terms
Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., 61, 7 terms
Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, 65, 6 terms
Rich Nugent, R-Fla., 64, 3 terms
Joe Pitts, R-Pa., 76, 10 terms
Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., 85, 23 terms
Edward Whitfield, R-Ky., 72, 11 terms

Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., 74, 4 terms
Dan Coats, R-Ind., 72, 2 full terms (also served 1989-1999)
Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., 79, 5 terms
Harry Reid, D-Nev., 75, 5 terms
David Vitter, R-La., 54, 2 terms

Resigned – (3 House: 3R)
House:
Senate:

John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, 65, 13 terms
Michael G. Grimm., R-N.Y., 45, 2 terms
Aaron Schock, R-Ill., 34, 4 terms

n/a

Died – (1 House: 1R)
House:
Senate:

Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss., 56, 3 terms

n/a

http://www.rollcall.com/politics/casualtylist.html/

canopfor on January 5, 2016 at 9:39 PM

Is he under a Secret Indictment!!

canopfor on January 5, 2016 at 9:41 PM

A republican shouldn’t have a problem picking up this seat, because there isn’t a difference anyone can detect anymore between the two parties in DC.

Merthin on January 5, 2016 at 9:42 PM

So, a Top Goon to Pelosium eh:
——————————

Chad Pergram [email protected] 5h5 hours ago

#Breaking Political shocker of the new year. Rep Steve Israel (D-NY), top lieutenant to Pelosi to retire from Congress.
===========

Chad Pergram [email protected] 5h5 hours ago

Rep Israel on retirement: Simply put, it’s time to pass on the torch
========

Chad Pergram [email protected] 5h5 hours ago

Rep Israel is the former chair of the DCCC & in Pelosi’s inner circle. Some thought he might be in line to eventually succeed her as Dem ldr
=============

Chad Pergram [email protected] 4h4 hours ago

Rep Israel retirememt announcement shakes up future Dem ldrshp picture down the road, if/when Pelosi/Hoyer/Clyburn move on.
=============

Chad Pergram [email protected] 4h4 hours ago

NRCC on Rep Israel’s retirement: We fully expect this seat to be a top pickup opportunity for Republicans in November.

https://twitter.com/ChadPergram

canopfor on January 5, 2016 at 9:45 PM

If he has a talent for it, I guess writing might be more lucrative than politics. But, I’d imagine he probably sees the handwriting on the wall a little more clearly than some of his lib colleagues.

With about 11 months to go until the elections, there are at least 3 things that could absolutely devastate the dems this cycle.

1) Outbreak of a general war in the middle east.

2) Domestic terrorist attack. Think maybe a hit on a grade school or something equally horrible.

3) Meltdown in the economy.

Given the current state of affairs, any or all of these are possible before November.

trigon on January 5, 2016 at 9:48 PM

Maybe his Jewish constituents’ questions about the Iran nuclear deal are getting tough to answer. Maybe he would like to take a trip to Israel while it is still there. Maybe he has come to the realization that after parroting this administrations talking points long enough he realized fiction stories were more credible and he got to participate in the script writing.

KW64 on January 5, 2016 at 9:50 PM

Always struck me as a guy with serious Potomac Fever……apparently not.

AYNBLAND on January 5, 2016 at 9:50 PM

Israel, who is serving his eighth term, said he wants to spend more time writing his second novel.

And thanks to the taxpayer, he will be able to do that without worry.
He earned it though. Just start making a list of all the things this public servant has done to make your life better, so, one day, you too can decide to kick back and write novel… or gaze at your navel…which is what most “novelists” actually do most of the time.

Mimzey on January 5, 2016 at 9:52 PM

Canopfer

about dang time (waving)…thanks for the info

CoffeeLover on January 5, 2016 at 9:54 PM

Does it really matter a damn if the GOP picks up the seat?

Bat Chain Puller on January 5, 2016 at 9:55 PM

Maybe he heard that the Democratic Party is reducing its support for “Israel,” but thought they were talking about him instead of the country.

J.S.K. on January 5, 2016 at 9:56 PM

Is the implication that he’s leaving for another reason?

Axe on January 5, 2016 at 9:57 PM

O/T:

5.1 magnitude quake detected close to North Korea nuclear test site

BallisticBob on January 5, 2016 at 9:44 PM

BallisticBob: I’m hearing, its an artificial earthquake,
I’m still, in Hot Info Pursuit:)
———————————————–

38 North [email protected] 4m4 minutes ago

Interested to hear official announcement from #NorthKorea at 12pm NK time.

https://twitter.com/38NorthNK

https://twitter.com/hashtag/NorthKorea?src=hash

canopfor on January 5, 2016 at 9:57 PM

Is the implication that he’s leaving for another reason?

Axe on January 5, 2016 at 9:57 PM

Axe: Well,……………TransGendering, is thee latest rage,
jus say’n:)

canopfor on January 5, 2016 at 9:58 PM

trigon on January 5, 2016 at 9:48 PM

All reasons for Obama to declare a state of emergency and cancel the elections

We may see your three and something much worse

halfbaked on January 5, 2016 at 10:03 PM

5.1 magnitude quake detected close to North Korea nuclear test site

BallisticBob on January 5, 2016 at 9:44 PM

They must frack a lot.

Mimzey on January 5, 2016 at 10:06 PM

Axe: Well,……………TransGendering, is thee latest rage,
jus say’n:)

canopfor on January 5, 2016 at 9:58 PM

Heh. :)

— Look here, xenophobe . . .

eh, this one is probably getting by me because his dropping the glorified civil-service job to become a novelist seems like trading one of the most base occupations imaginable for one of the most noble. If I understand Morrissey’s take, it implies “Who would do this?” while mine is “Who wouldn’t?”

Axe on January 5, 2016 at 10:06 PM

Don’t Democrats already write fiction when they come up with their bills?

WestVirginiaRebel on January 5, 2016 at 10:07 PM

Ed– correction:

At age 58, though, he comes up short for a Congressional pension with less than twenty years served.

A member is eligible for a pension after only *five* years in office– they can only collect after 62. The 20-years-service math is if they wish to retire earlier than that. (The details are on pages 2 & 8 of that CRS report).

BTW, don’t worry, CSRS and FERS confuses everybody.

DaveatGarfieldRidge on January 5, 2016 at 10:08 PM

Well, as a progressive, I imagine his difficulties would be in writing nonfiction. Facts come hard to a Democrat.

Dolce Far Niente on January 5, 2016 at 9:33 PM

Israel is most definitely not a progressive. He’s a pretty conservative dem. He’s anti-abortion rights and staunchly pro-Israel (the state). Think Webb.

Tlaloc on January 5, 2016 at 10:36 PM

The Associated Press [email protected] 2m2 minutes ago

BREAKING: North Korea says it has conducted a successful hydrogen bomb test, a surprise announcement.

canopfor on January 5, 2016 at 10:38 PM

canopfor on January 5, 2016 at 10:39 PM

canopfor on January 5, 2016 at 9:58 PM

Heh. :)

— Look here, xenophobe . . .

eh, this one is probably getting by me because his dropping the glorified civil-service job to become a novelist seems like trading one of the most base occupations imaginable for one of the most noble. If I understand Morrissey’s take, it implies “Who would do this?” while mine is “Who wouldn’t?”

Axe on January 5, 2016 at 10:06 PM

Axe: Crazy does, what Crazy is:)

canopfor on January 5, 2016 at 10:41 PM

canopfor on January 5, 2016 at 10:38 PM

canopfor on January 5, 2016 at 10:39 PM

Nork K, getting a nuke. Another Clinton legacy.

Mimzey on January 5, 2016 at 10:43 PM

DPRK News Service [email protected]_News 28m28 minutes ago

Respected scholar Donald Trump states U.S. Senator Ted Cruise was born a wretched slave in Canada.

https://twitter.com/dprk_news?lang=en

canopfor on January 5, 2016 at 10:45 PM

canopfor on January 5, 2016 at 10:39 PM

Nork K, getting a nuke. Another Clinton legacy.

Mimzey on January 5, 2016 at 10:43 PM

Mimzey: Yup,…up next,…Iran:)

canopfor on January 5, 2016 at 10:45 PM

Cantorize all who voted for the omnicrap bill.

In the senate daschle the traitors.

Schadenfreude on January 5, 2016 at 10:50 PM

…write fiction?…so what news network is he going to write for?

JugEarsButtHurt on January 5, 2016 at 11:14 PM

shmendrik

Dr. ZhivBlago on January 6, 2016 at 6:25 AM

I notice his book isn’t free for kindle unlimited users.
guess he didn’t want to share his wealth…..

dmacleo on January 6, 2016 at 8:42 AM

Things must be worse than we thought if all these libs are leaving just when it’s starting to get interesting. I hope Cruz has a red cape hanging in his closet.

Kissmygrits on January 6, 2016 at 8:51 AM

Someone probably has dirt on him and suggested he spend more time writing. People rarely leave the gravy train willingly.

Flange on January 5, 2016 at 9:31 PM

I’ve heard people claim all politicians are corrupt and self-serving but I know from personal experience, albeit only anecdotal and mostly at state and local levels, that simply isn’t true. I’m guessing some if not most people in elected positions genuinely view themselves as public servants, and they’re dedicated and hard-working.

Besides, I’ve spent time in countries such as Mexico and Turkey where graft is part of the order of things. We aren’t there, at least not yet and not by a long ways.

troyriser_gopftw on January 6, 2016 at 9:52 AM

Something is amiss here. Democrat Steve Israel is a political animal, and he has been winning by comfortable margins his congressional seat in an area that has two Republican State Assemblymen and a Republican State Senator. So this is not about a concern about getting re-elected.

I am personally happy. Steve Israel voted against funding the troops in Iraq in 2007 at a time my older son was an Army infantry platoon leader there and we were in the process of winning.

Phil Byler on January 6, 2016 at 10:00 AM

His first novel is probably a romantic novel about a Congressman cheating on his wife and falling for the young sexy intern in his office…and then he gets caught.
The twist her name is Monica. But not that Monica.

albill on January 6, 2016 at 11:07 AM

JMO –

Israel could not bring himself to switch parties but could not stomach the hard-left anti-Israel turn the Democrats are taking. His seat is one of the handful of true swing seats, which meant he had to raise a ton of money for every election, and his relatively moderate voting record was getting him a cold shoulder from the progressive money people.

I believe this was Rick Lazio’s seat in the House before Israel. The district hasn’t changed all that much and could be a GOP pickup with the right candidate.

rockmom on January 6, 2016 at 12:12 PM

He resigned because it sucks to be in the minority in the House.
And they aren’t getting the majority back anytime soon. Especially with an gun grabber agenda…

ConstantineXI on January 6, 2016 at 12:26 PM

Pure speculation on my part, but I note Israel is from a Long Island Congressional district. Has anybody actually looked at Trump’s polling numbers in New York? especially on Long Island? While not indicative of how things will go, those numbers have got to be terrifying to the opposing party candidates sitting on the ground in those districts. They signal a deep dissatisfaction with things among their own local voters. Forget looking at past numbers and whether or not Israel exceeded Obama in his district. Long Islanders tend to be a punchy bunch that dance on the fine line and can swing quickly and broadly with the wind. What matters there is the future. And if one of Pelosi’s hand picked successors is departing to go write the great american novel or somesuch, you can bet that it is because they sense a wave approaching shore. Trump defined Jeb Bush as a “Low Energy” candidate. But the same can be said of the Dem Presidential offerings on the whole. They are trying to run a stealth campaign in order to avoid subjecting their anointed one to scrutiny or the harsh glare of daylight. While the GOP is drawing record crowds and debate viewership. True interest and deep discussion and interest (not to mention some side show flare, because Trump). After all a “retired Congressman” is a valuable resource that people are willing to pay good money for. Whereas a losing Congressman are a dime a dozen and do not draw anywhere near the asking price.

patches on January 6, 2016 at 9:21 PM

This is my guess about his novels:

An incredibly brilliant and compassionate congressman legislates by day, and solves murder mysteries by night, with the help of his lovely secretary and faithful staff.

RockinRickOwen on January 7, 2016 at 10:20 AM