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Illinois Congressman Says He Won’t Run In 1988

November 7, 1987

CHICAGO (AP) _ U.S. Rep. Kenneth J. Gray, a 12-term Democrat, said Saturday he will not seek re-election next year in his southern Illinois district because of health problems and political opposition.

″It is with a great degree of sadness that I announce today that I will be unable to seek a 13th term in the U.S. Congress,″ Gray said in a statement.

″Once again, the Republican National Congressional Campaign Committee has targeted the 22nd District as one that will receive extra funds (and) numerous opposition speakers,″ said Gray, 62.

He said the Republicans plan ″an all-out 12-month campaign between the filing time in December 1987 and the November 1988 general election.″

Gray said he is suffering from an ailment in his leg muscles caused by a tick bite he received in the jungles of Brazil while on an official trip there in December 1986.

″I have been suffering a 40 percent disability in my leg muscles and will be physically unable to handle more than 200 problems daily in my congressional office and at the same time carry on a yearlong bruising campaign in the southern Illinois district,″ Gray said.

His press secretary, Robert Otterson, said the muscle ailment was not life- threatening, but had left the congressman fatigued.

″It has caused him to slow down quite a bit,″ Otterson said by telephone from Washington. ″There is no limping or anything like that.″

Gray was first elected to the House in 1954 and served for 20 years, until retiring for health reasons. In 1975, he was replaced by fellow Democrat Paul Simon, now a senator and a contender for Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

When Simon was elected to the Senate in 1984, Gray came out of retirement to win back his old seat.

Otterson said he didn’t know if Gray had any successors in mind. ″There’s probably going to be a lot of people scurrying around down there today trying to get their names into the ring,″ he said.

He said the deadline for filing is Dec. 7, giving prospects a month to decide whether to enter the race.

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