Indiana's Souder To Quit On Friday Over Affair

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Indiana's 3rd CD will be getting a new congressman. hide caption

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There are different reasons to leave Congress.

Hawaii's Neil Abercrombie and Georgia's Nathan Deal left this year to run for governor.

Florida's Robert Wexler left to head up a Middle East think tank.

And now Indiana's Mark Souder is leaving ... because he's a pro-family conservative who was having an affair with a staffer.

As good a reason as any.

That last bombshell came this morning, as detailed by the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette's Sylvia Smith.  Souder, a 59-year old eight-term Republican who has been married for 30 years, confessed to a "mutual relationship" with a member of his staff.  "I sinned against God, my wife and my family," wrote Souder in a statement, and said he would resign, effective this Friday:  “I believe it is the best decision for my family, the people of northeast Indiana and our country."  He added, “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.”

More from Smith's report:

Souder, who describes himself as an evangelical Christian, said doing a good job in Congress is all-consuming, “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.”

He said serving in Congress “has been a blessing and a responsibility given from God. I wish I could have been a better example.”

“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 the lord,” he said.

Souder was a member of the Class of '94, a solid conservative elected in the GOP sweep that year when he ousted Rep. Jill Long (D).  While often guided by his strong religious beliefs, he said in 1998 that he opposed the impeachment of President Clinton, a stance that brought him a serious primary opponent in 2000.

As it was, Souder struggled in recent elections, getting 54 percent against Democrat Tom Hayhurst in 2006, a year when three other Indiana House Republicans were ousted, and 55 percent in 2008.  He had a tough primary on May 4, after getting battered by wealthy car dealer Bob Thomas, who said he was not sufficiently conservative.  Hayhurst, his opponent in 2006, is running again this year.

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