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Another moderate bites the dust: N.Y. Democrat calls it quits

AP

Bill Owens (D) after his victory in New York's 21st congressional district in 2009.

One more moderate congressman is leaving Washington. 

Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY) announced he will retire at the end of the 113th Congress, and will not seek a fourth term to this Upstate New York seat, opening up a Republican target in 2014.

Owens first won election to the seat in 2009 in a hotly contested three-way race that flipped it to Democrats. He won reelection narrowly in 2012, 50%-48%.

While the seat had previously been held by Republican Rep. John McHugh for 16 years, until he was appointed Secretary of the Army by President Obama, Obama carried the district in both the 2008 (52%-47%) and 2012 (52%-46%) presidential elections.

Owens, the fifth House Democrat to call it quits this cycle, gave no reason for his exit beyond that he will "undertake new endeavors and spend more time with my family."

Republicans immediately took aim. "Bill Owens would rather leave the House than lose an election," said Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Walden added, calling it a "massive blow" to Democrats. "Clearly vulnerable Democrats would rather exit Congress voluntarily than be forced out by voters because of their support for ObamaCare and other disastrous Democrat economic policies."

Democrats, on the other hand, expressed confidence that they would hold on, given a potentially nasty Republican primary and that they have fared well.

"While Republicans are already fighting a bitter and divisive primary, I have no doubt that another commonsense Democrat will fill his shoes in this competitive district that Democrats have held for the past three elections," Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement.

Still, when Democrats are having to spend money here, it hurts their ability to pick up enough seats to take back the House. They need to pick up 17 seats to do so.

Here's the full casualty list of retirements so far this cycle:

DEMOCRATS (5): Jim Matheson (UT), Carolyn McCarthy (NY), Mike McIntyre (NC), George Miller (CA), and Bill Owens (NY).

REPUBLICANS (9): Spencer Bachus (AL), Michele Bachmann (MN), John Campbell (CA), Howard Coble (NC), Jim Gerlach (PA), Tim Griffin (AR), Tom Latham (IA), John Runyan (NJ), and Frank Wolf (VA).