Chair of Congressional bioattack subcommittee announces retirement

U.S. Rep. John Linder, the chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Prevention of Nuclear and Biological Attack, has announced that he will not seek re-election.

Linder, a conservative Republican representing much of Gwinnett and surrounding counties in Georgia for nearly two decades, made the announcement at a dedication this weekend of a GOP headquarters building in Gwinnett.

Linder gave no explanation for his abrupt retirement announcement at the time, later telling WSB radio that the decision was made 10 days prior to Saturday.

"It was just a good idea to quit now," Linder told WSB. "There's nothing behind it."

Linder also said that the retirement would give him more time to spend at his family farm in Mississippi as well as time to advocate for a "Fair Tax" system to replace the IRS and the federal income tax code with a nationwide retail sales tax.

"It just struck me that this is the thing to do," Linder said on WSB. "You can't keep doing things forever - and I never intended to stay as long as I did."

Linder noted that he has been regularly running for office since 1974.

"Georgia Republicans will always owe John a debt of gratitude," Republican U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Coweta County told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "He was a trailblazer in our state by party building and running for office as a Republican when you could fit all Georgia Republicans in a phone booth."