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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

July 28, 2011 at 3:22 PM

McDermott: every intent to run for 13th term

Posted by Jim Brunner

Once or twice a year, it seems, a rumor buzzes around that longtime Seattle Congressman Jim McDermott may finally decide to retire.

Another was circulating recently, but McDermott repeated what he's said all year: He plans to stick around and seek a 13th term.

"I like being in the Congress. I came to the Congress in 1988 with the express idea of getting a national health plan," McDermott said in a telephone interview. "I want to be here when it's being implemented."

McDermott, 74, has risen to become one of the senior Democrats on the powerful House Ways & Means Committee. He said he's confident Democrats will retake a House majority in 2012, giving him the power to work on the health-care law's implementation, specifically on changes to medical payments to get costs under control.

What gives him that confidence? McDermott cited the ongoing fight over the debt ceiling, blasting Republicans for manufacturing a crisis over what he said has in the past been a routine piece of business.

"I've been in the Congress for 23 years. We've raised the debt limit I don't know how many times. There was never this kind of nonsense. We didn't try to tie it to 27 other things," McDermott said.

As for the rumors about his own future, McDermott attributed such chatter to people who have their own congressional ambitions.

"I suspect that when I decide I'm not gonna run, there will be a couple of people who are interested in my seat," McDermott said, in a vast understatement.

But that opening, he repeated, won't be available next year.

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