Burton, who began his congressional career in the 1960s, told members of the Indiana House on Tuesday that he’ll serve out his term but not run again, the Associated Press reported. The 73-year-old didn’t elaborate on his decision during his brief address to lawmakers, but he told reporters beforehand that he was resigning because of family health issues.
“I don’t want to get into it, it’s about personal problems with family health,” he told reporters gathered around him on the dais at the front of the Indiana House of Representatives, AP said..
The 15-term congressman survived a crowded 2010 primary with less than 30 percent of the vote and would face a tough 2012 race after redistricting overhauled his district. Burton faced primary challenges from former congressman David McIntosh, 2008 and 2010 opponent John McGoff and former U.S. attorney Susan Brooks, among others.
Burton, known as a quirky and fierce politician, proposed an appropriations bill amendment in 2009 that was aimed at building a transparent shield around the House chamber to protect lawmakers from being assassinated by terrorists. He resurrected the proposal last year after a gunman killed six people and wounded 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) at a Tucson supermarket.
In another strange incident, Burton reportedly tried to reenact what he said was the murder of Clinton aide Vincent Foster by shooting at a watermelon. Foster, who suffered from depression, was found dead of a gunshot wound while parked in his car at Fort Marcy Park in July 1993. The death was ruled a suicide.
Through the 1990s, the highly partisan Burton took aim at President Bill Clinton, pushing a Congressional investigation of Democratic campaign financing and issuing subpoenas of hundreds of Clinton administration officials. In 1998, Burton called Clinton “a scumbag."
Burton took up the cause of autism in the late ’90s, believing that his grandson became autistic after receiving vaccines that contained thimerosal. Burton fought to ban the chemical.
Burton is the seventh U.S. House Republican to announce he won't seek reelection this year. Seven other Republican House members are running for higher office.
On the Democratic side, 11 House members are retiring, and eight are running for another office.