Steve Israel Is Retiring So He Can Focus on Being a Novelist

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Photo: Alex Wong/2014 Getty Images

Long Island Democrat Steve Israel announced that he will not run for reelection this year, bringing his 15 years in Congress to an end. He said in a statement that he was excited to pursue "new passions and develop new interests, mainly spend more time writing my second novel" and about "spending more time home and frequenting my beloved New York diners." He chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during the last two election cycles, which means he is well acquainted with the factors that make a seat hard to win. His district is currently rated a toss-up.

Israel’s first novel, The Global War on Morris, came out in 2014. A Washington Post review called it “’It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ with a soupcon of al-Qaeda." His second novel, Big Guns, has yet to be released. According to the New York Times, it is "a sendup of National Rifle Association lobbyists." Both books were mostly written on his iPhone. At the end of 2014, after House Democrats lost miserably in the midterm under his watch, he told the Times, “I write on planes, I write in cars. I write well into the night and in the early morning. I love writing. I hope that I can spend more time doing that.” As National Journal noted last year, Israel also founded a Congressional Writers Caucus. 

When Israel leaves, Long Island will not be without a legislating literary luminary. Representative Peter King has written several thrillers — one was about a terror-fighting member of Congress, another one might have been read by Bill Clinton. The top review of his latest novel on Amazon is titled "A Book About Meetings, Unfortunately."