I guess he just doesn't want to actually run for his seat in the Senate.
Obey won the first of 21 terms in 1969 — when a special election was held after President Richard Nixon tapped Melvin Laird to be his defense secretary. He faced a potentially bruising re-election campaign this fall, and his retirement is likely to make it easier for Republicans to pick up his seat.
Wow 21 strait terms? I guess it is time for him to exit stage left. It seems that his GOP opponent might be sitting pretty now:
Sean Duffy, 38, a Republican district attorney, is seen as the favored candidate in the GOP primary, and his candidacy has attracted the backing of Republicans in Washington as well as the party's 2008 vice president nominee, Sarah Palin, and tea party activists.