Openly gay
Arizona Republican Jim Kolbe to call it quits

Rep. Jim Kolbe, a
leading proponent of free trade and the only openly gay
Republican in Congress, has decided not to seek a 12th term
next year, associates said Wednesday. GOP state
senator Toni Hellon said the 63-year-old Arizona
congressman told her of his intention to leave
Congress and "do other things." Another political associate,
who spoke on condition of anonymity because Kolbe has
not yet announced his decision, also said Kolbe had
decided not to seek reelection.

Kolbe often
disagrees with his party on gay rights issues. He
reluctantly acknowledged in 1996 that he is gay,
beating to the punch a national gay magazine that
planned to do an article on him after he voted against
federal recognition of same-sex marriages. Kolbe is a strong
proponent of free trade and a guest-worker program for
immigrants. He is popular in his southeastern Arizona
district, which includes part of Tucson and its
northern suburbs. He captured 61% of the vote in 2004.

Kolbe has served
as chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on
foreign operations and export financing, a critical position
in determining foreign aid. He was first elected to
Congress in 1984, when he defeated Democratic
representative Jim McNulty. (AP)

Tags: World, World

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