Just when the political year cannot get much weirder, it does. Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post reports:
Mark Souder to resign after affair
By Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake
Indiana Rep. Mark Souder (R) will resign his congressional seat after an affair with a staffer came to light, he said in a statement this morning.
“It is with great regret I announce that I am resigning from the U.S. House of Representatives as well as resigning as the Republican nominee for Congress in this fall’s election,” said Souder.
“I sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part time member of my staff,” added Souder. “I am so shamed to have hurt those I love.”
(Souder’s full resignation statement is after the jump.)
The news was first reported by Fox News Channel.
The revelations regarding Souder come two weeks after he survived a serious primary challenge from car dealer Bob Thomas who spent considerable sums of his own money on the race. Souder won the primary with less than 50 percent of the vote.
How Souder will be replaced on the ballot remains to be seen. State law allows Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) wide leeway in whether or not to call a special election and in the immediate aftermath of the resignation Republicans said it was unlikely there would be any vote before November.
Within 30 days of the Souder vacancy — and he has said he will resign officially on Friday — the precinct chairmen and women of the counties in his district must gather to select a replacement. One named being bandied about is state Sen. Marlin Stutzman who ran unsuccessfully for Senate earlier this month.
Souder joins a succession of Members of Congress embroiled in sex scandals in recent years, including Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.), Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.). Massa resigned, while Ensign and Vitter are still serving in the Senate.
Souder was elected in the GOP wave election of 1994. He represents the Fort Wayne area in northeast Indiana.
Democrats this month nominated Tom Hayhurst. Hayhurst, a repeat candidate, held Souder to 54 percent of the vote in their 2006 matchup.
Souder resignation statement
IT IS WITH GREAT REGRET I ANNOUNCE THAT I AM RESIGNING FROM THE US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, AS WELL AS RESIGNING AS THE REPUBLICAN NOMINEE FOR CONGRESS IN THIS FALL’S ELECTION.I BELIEVE IT IS THE BEST DECISION FOR MY FAMILY, THE PEOPLE OF NORTHEAST INDIANA, AND OUR COUNTRY. I WILL SUBMIT MY RESIGNATION TO SPEAKER PELOSI EFFECTIVE THIS FRIDAY. I CAN NEVER FULLY THANK ALL THOSE WHO HAVE WORKED SO HARD, GIVEN SO MUCH AND SUPPORTED ME THROUGH EIGHT CONTESTED PRIMARIES AND EIGHT GENERAL ELECTIONS.ONLY WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN THE RECIPIENT CAN YOU REALLY FEEL THE HUMBLING POWER OF SUCH GENEROSITY. IT HAS BEEN A PRIVILEGE TO BE A PART OF THE BATTLE FOR FREEDOM AND THE VALUES WE SHARE.IT HAS BEEN A GREAT HONOR TO FIGHT FOR THE NEEDS, THE JOBS, AND THE FUTURE OF THIS REGION WHERE MY FAMILY HAS LIVED FOR OVER 160 YEARS. IT HAS BEEN ALL CONSUMING FOR ME TO DO THIS JOB WELL, ESPECIALLY IN A DISTRICT WITH COSTLY, COMPETITIVE ELECTIONS EVERY TWO YEARS I DO NOT HAVE ANY SORT OF “NORMAL” LIFE – FOR FAMILY, FOR FRIENDS, FOR CHURCH, FOR COMMUNITY.TO SERVE HAS BEEN A BLESSING AND A RESPONSIBILITY GIVEN FROM GOD.I WISH I COULD HAVE BEEN A BETTER EXAMPLE. I SINNED AGAINST GOD, MY WIFE AND MY FAMILY BY HAVING A MUTUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH A PART-TIME MEMBER OF MY STAFF.IN THE POISONOUS ENVIRONMENT OF WASHINGTON DC, ANY PERSONAL FAILING IS SEIZED UPON, OFTEN TWISTED, FOR POLITICAL GAIN. I AM RESIGNING RATHER THAN TO PUT MY FAMILY THROUGH THAT PAINFUL, DRAWN-OUT PROCESS.DIANE AND MY FAMILY WERE MORE THAN WILLING TO STAND HERE WITH ME. WE ARE A COMMITTED FAMILY. BUT THE ERROR IS MINE AND I SHOULD BEAR THE RESPONSIBILITY, NOT ONLY AM I THANKFUL FOR A LOVING FAMILY BUT FOR A LOVING GOD. MY COMFORT IS THAT GOD IS A GRACIOUS AND FORGIVING GOD TO THOSE WHO SINCERELY SEEK HIS FORGIVENESS AS I DO. BUT I AM SO ASHAMED TO HAVE HURT THOSE I LOVE.I AM SO SORRY TO HAVE LET SO MANY FRIENDS DOWN, PEOPLE WHO HAVE FOUGHT SO HARD FOR ME. THE IDEAS WE ADVOCATE ARE STILL JUST AND RIGHT.AMERICA WILL SURVIVE AND THRIVE WHEN ANCHORED IN THOSE VALUES.HUMAN BEINGS, LIKE ME, WILL FAIL, BUT OUR CAUSE IS GREATER THAN INDIVIDUALS.IT IS BASED UPON ETERNAL TRUTHS.BY STEPPING ASIDE, MY MISTAKE CANNOT BE USED AS A POLITICAL FOOTBALL IN A PARTISAN ATTEMPT TO UNDERMINE THE CAUSE FOR WHICH I HAVE LABORED ALL MY ADULT LIFE.I LOVE THIS AREA.THIS IS MY HOME.IT HAS BEEN SUCH AN HONOR TO SERVE YOU.FOR SIXTEEN YEARS, MY FAMILY AND I HAVE GIVEN OUR ALL FOR THIS AREA. THE TOLL HAS BEEN HIGH.AS I LEAVE PUBLIC OFFICE, MY PLANS ARE FOCUSED UPON REPAIRING MY MARRIAGE, EARNING BACK THE TRUST OF MY FAMILY AND MY COMMUNITY, AND RENEWING MY WALK WITH MY LORD. I HUMBLY ASK YOU, FOR THE SAKE OF MY FAMILY THAT YOU RESPECT OUR PRIVACY IN THIS DIFFICULT TIME.