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U.S. Rep. Reynolds retires

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  • NEW: He's 29th Republican to retire from U.S. House this term
  • The five-term New York legislator announced retirement Thursday
  • Reynolds is a former chairman of National Republican Congressional Committee
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From Deirdre Walsh
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-New York, announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of his term, saying it was time "to take up new challenges."

U.S. Rep. Tom Reynolds' retirement may be another boon for Democrats in this year's election.

"As Abraham Lincoln said, 'It's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.' " Reynolds said during a press conference in Williamsville, New York. "So even at the tender age of 58, I think I have enough life, and enough years, left to embark on the next leg of the journey."

Reynolds has represented his upstate New York district for five terms but won his last election by a small margin.

He will be the 29th Republican to retire from the House of Representatives this term, setting up potential gains for Democrats.

"With today's announcement, five of six elected Republican leaders from the 2006 cycle have retired or quit," Doug Thornell, press secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement.

In addition to Reynolds, the others are Dennis Hastert of Illinois, Tom DeLay of Texas, Deborah Pryce of Ohio and John Doolittle of California.

"Democrats are competitive in each of these districts," Thornell said. "Republicans are on defense with less than eight months until Election Day; the NRCC [National Republican Congressional Committee] still has major recruiting holes, internal problems and little money to defend their vulnerable incumbents. Democrats remain on the offense, and we are well-positioned to pick up Reynolds' seat."

Reynolds, however, was certain that his party would retain his district this fall.

"Make no mistake. This is a Republican district, and it will again be represented by a Republican next year," he said.

NRCC Chairman Tom Cole also vowed to defend the seat. The NRCC is the political campaign organization for House Republicans.

"New York's 26th Congressional District has a history of electing strong Republican leaders like former Reps. Jack Kemp and Bill Paxon," Cole said. "This is a solid Republican district, and I look forward to serving with the next Republican to win the seat in November."

Reynolds was chairman of the NRCC in the 2005-2006 cycle when the GOP lost control of the House.

He recently came under criticism after accusations that NRCC treasurer Christopher Ward may have embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the committee's funds while Reynolds was its leader.

Reynolds also was in the middle of the page scandal in involving former Rep. Mark Foley that many believe hurt House Republicans in 2006.

His then-chief of staff, Kirk Fordham, informed Reynolds about Foley's communications with House pages, and Reynolds came under fire for not taking appropriate action on the information sooner. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Adam Levine contributed to this report

All About Tom ReynoldsU.S. CongressRepublican Party

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