U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson said Tuesday he is done with Congress after his current term, but not with politics.
The Kinderhook Republican said this, his third term, will be his last representing the 19th Congressional District in the House of Representatives, but did not rule out running for statewide office in 2018.
The question: Which office?
“After much reflection and consultation with my family, this will be my third and final time taking the oath of office as a Representative in the U.S. House,” he said in a written statement released prior to the incoming 114th Congress convening Tuesday. “I thank the voters of Upstate NY for this privilege to serve and pledge to continue to work tirelessly on their behalf in this final term.”
Gibson, 50, easily won a third term in November, beating Democrat Sean Eldridge. His future plans were not specific beyond 2016.
“Moving forward, I will be committed to building a stronger team so that the GOP can compete and win statewide in 2018, including the possibility of being a candidate in that cycle,” Gibson said.
Two statewide offices up for election in 2018 are governor and the U.S. Senate seat now occupied by Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand. Also up are lieutenant governor, attorney general (Gibson is not a lawyer) and comptroller.
Gibson was not available for comment Tuesday, a staffer said. The aide did state Gibson plans to serve out his full two-year congressional term.
State Republican Chairman Ed Cox called Gibson “a great candidate … who has served the public very well.” But the chairman said it’s too early to discuss what statewide offices Gibson could run for in 2018, noting the Republicans have “a deep bench.”
“We are talking a ways down the line,” Cox said. “A lot of things will happen between now and then. We will have to see what the future brings. But he has made it clear he will be helping the party.”
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who lost to Gov. Andrew Cuomo in November, has expressed an interest in running again for the office, GOP officials said, adding the county executive earned high marks in defeat for his campaign.
Schoharie County Republican Chairman Lewis Wilson was thrilled by the Gibson news, calling him the No. 1 GOP candidate for statewide office. Wilson said he is glad Gibson is leaving Congress in two years — “I’d like to see him move on to something else” — and believes the former Army officer and academic could win a governor’s race.
“I have all the faith in the world in Chris Gibson. I wish we could clone him,” Wilson said. “He could do it. He has a feeling for people. When they meet him, people really like him.”
State Sen. George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, whose 46th District overlaps with Gibson’s, said he was not surprised by the announcement.
“Chris Gibson has always been true to his word,” Amedore said. “He has always said he has self-imposed term limits and is sticking to it.”
Like most other Republican leaders interviewed, Amedore passed on saying whether Gibson would be better served running for an administrative or legislative statewide office.
“I hope to see him at some point, in some office, return to public service,” Amedore said.
Gibson believes all members of the House should be limited to two four-year terms rather than unlimited two-year terms. Gibson has long term-limited himself, committing to serving no more than four terms. During his re-election campaign he had not committed to running again in 2016.
“He’s been an exemplary member of Congress, and we are thrilled he wants to be part of our conversation for the next [election] cycle,” New York Republican State Committee spokesman David Laska said. “That conversation hasn’t taken place yet, but whenever the congressman wants to have that conversation, we are all ears.”
The 19th Congressional District covers Sullivan, Ulster, Delaware, Otsego, Greene, Columbia and Schoharie counties, as well as parts of Dutchess, Rensselaer and Montgomery counties.
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