Steve Israel, a Long Island congressman who once led communications strategies to elect Democrats to the House, announced Tuesday that he will retire at the end of this year.
Israel is 57 and in his eighth term. He is a top ally to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. His announcement is unexpected, as he’s among those seen as a possible successor to Pelosi. But in a statement Israel says it is time to pursue new passions and develop new interests, and spend more time writing his second novel.
He says that by retiring in a presidential election year he will help ensure that his district stays in Democratic hands because of the high Democratic turnout in a presidential year. He was one of the few Democrats to oppose President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran last year.
Israel represents northern Long Island and eastern Queens, which is a tossup district.