Rep. Mark Foley has resigned, effective immediately, in the face of questions about e-mails he wrote to a former male page. Before news of the e-mails surfaced, the Florida Republican had been predicted as an easy winner over Democrat Tim Mahoney.
But now Foley's run of six terms has ended amid questions from the media and his challenger about why the congressman, 52, wrote several e-mails to the former page, who was 16 at the time of the unusually personal exchange earlier this year.
Coming 39 days before the election, Foley's resignation took the shape of just two sentences, in which he announced his decision and apologized to his constituents for "letting down my family and the people of Florida."
Questions about Foley's sexuality are not new; when he considered running for the Senate in 2004, it became an issue. But Foley, who is single, cited his right to privacy.
In Congress, Foley has been known as a reliable Republican vote — conservative but not dogmatic. He represented the wealthy South Central Florida district that includes Palm Beach. In a region bedeviled by hurricanes, Foley was instrumental in getting money for the district.
He was also the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus.
In light of his sudden resignation, the Republican Party will be allowed to replace Foley on the ballot.
NPR's Michele Norris talks with NPR's Brian Naylor.