WASHINGTON POST: C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) will retire after two decades in Congress at the end of his term this year, he announced Friday, ending a 38-year stint in public service.
Ruppersberger, who turns 78 next week, is best known for his work on intelligence issues. His departure adds to an unusually high number of open seats in Maryland’s congressional delegation, which has been dominated by veteran lawmakers.
“This was an incredibly difficult decision for me because, now more than ever, Congress needs thoughtful, end-game representatives like me — members who care more about constituents and our country and less about cable news hits,” Ruppersberger said in a statement. “But it is time to pass the torch to a younger generation of leaders and I am looking forward to spending more time with my family.”
Ruppersberger’s central Maryland district included some of the state’s highest-profile military installations, including Fort George G. Meade. He is a lawyer and was an assistant state prosecutor in Baltimore County before becoming a county council member in 1986, and later county executive in 1994. He’s married, with two adult children and five grandchildren.
In a statement, he said he was most proud of his constituent service work and noted that he ran for public office after a near-fatal car accident in the 1970s left him in the care of the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center. He spent much of his career advocating for the institution.
He was at one point the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, where he served 12 years, and was among the first lawmakers to see photos documenting the death of Osama bin Laden.
He was an early advocate of ending the National Security Agency’s widespread bulk collection of U.S. citizens’ phone data. And in 2014, he weighed running to become Maryland’s governor but sat out the race, which ended with Republican Larry Hogan’s upset win.
Ruppersberger also served on the House Appropriations Committee. Ruppersberger is Maryland’s third seasoned member of Congress to announce his retirement this year. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) is not seeking reelection after a half-century in public office, and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) is retiring after 18 years. His announcement comes just two weeks ahead of the filing deadline for the seat.
Born Charles Albert Ruppersberger III, the congressman legally added his lifelong nickname Dutch to his name so he could appear on the ballot that way during his inaugural 2002 run, according to the Hill.
“When I was born … the doctor came out and said to my father, ‘You have a big blond Dutchman,’” he told the publication in 2009. “So they started calling me Dutch, and when my mother and he would write letters, he’d ask, ‘How’s the Dutchman doing?’ I’ve been called Dutch all of my life.”
With few exceptions, Maryland politics have been dominated by Democrats for decades. Many, including Cardin and Gov. Wes Moore (D), offered tribute to Ruppersberger. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said, “Maryland owes a debt of gratitude” to Ruppersberger. “I’ve been honored to work alongside him,” he wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) credited Ruppersberger with “exemplary public service, including his work on behalf of our national security,” adding “he’ll be missed here in Congress but once Team Maryland, always Team Maryland.”