U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger is calling it a career, announcing in a video shared Friday that he’s opted not to run for reelection to Congress this year after serving 21 years.

“This election, my name will not be on the ballot,” Ruppersberger said at a news conference in his Timonium office after the announcement, adding he was looking forward to spending more time with his five grandchildren during his retirement. “I love my job, but it wasn’t really fair to my family.”

Ruppersberger’s career in public service started decades ago as a seasonal police officer and lifeguard in Ocean City, and continued into the courtroom as a prosecutor. Later he entered politics as a council member and county executive in Baltimore County and eventually went to Congress for eleven terms.

Ruppersberger’s retirement had been speculated and rumored for some time. He jokingly acknowledged it himself when his colleague U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes announced his own political retirement.

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“We were all shocked,” Ruppersberger told The Baltimore Banner in October. “I thought he was coming over to ask me if I was leaving.”

Ruppersberger represents Maryland’s 2nd Congressional District, which, as currently configured, encompasses most of Carroll County, a large portion of Baltimore County and dips into north-central Baltimore City.

Ruppersberger made his announcement through a video that cycled through a list of accomplishments in his career, culminating in a retirement announcement and expressions of gratitude to his family, staff and constituents.

“Thank you for entrusting me year after year with this tremendous responsibility,” Ruppersberger says in the video, addressing constituents. “I have tried to serve you each and every day with the integrity and decency you deserve.”

The video closes with a shot of Ruppersberger donning a Terrell Suggs jersey and declaring: “Now let’s go, Ravens!”

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During the 2022 election, then-gubernatorial nominee Wes Moore (left), Baltimore County Councilman Julian Jones, and U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger applaud while speaking with reporters outside Windsor Mill Middle School in Baltimore County. (Taylor DeVille/Taylor DeVille)

Already, one politician has signaled an interest in running for the seat: Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., a Democrat from Millers Island in the southeast part of the county.

“If there’s the right opportunity to expand and elevate the work here in Baltimore County, that is something we would take a very serious look at,” Olszewski said in November. Olszweski has also opened a campaign account to explore a Congressional run.

Olszewski made no statements about his future political plans on Friday, instead lauding Ruppersberger’s long career, calling him a friend and mentor.

“While his retirement from public service will mark the end of an era, his legacy as one of greater Baltimore’s best leaders and storytellers will undoubtedly endure for generations to come,” Olszewski said in a statement.

Jessica Sjoberg and Clint Spellman, Jr. have filed for the Democratic primary. Dave Wallace has filed as Republican.

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Ruppersberger’s spokeswoman Jaime Lennon declined to answer questions about endorsements for the open seat.

Ruppersberger grew up in Baltimore and graduated from City College before heading to the University of Maryland, College Park, where he played lacrosse. He earned a law degree at the University of Baltimore and worked as an assistant state’s attorney.

Ruppersberger opened his brief remarks at Friday’s news conference by hearkening back to lifesaving care he received at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center after a near-fatal car crash when he was 28. He spent a month at the hospital, where he made a full recovery. “But I know I must have brain damage, because I’m in politics,” he quipped. The experienced compelled him to run for public office and bolster quality health care.

Ruppersberger was elected to the Baltimore County Council in 1985 and reelected in 1989. He then was elected Baltimore County executive in 1994 and reelected in 1998.

“When you come from local government, you have to deal with issues every day, issues involving your people, your constituents. We were in the service business,” Ruppersberger said in his Timonium office.

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When his terms as executive were up, Ruppersberger won election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002.

For that 2002 election, Ruppersberger legally changed his name — Charles Albert Ruppersberger III — to ensure that his longtime nickname of “Dutch” could appear not only on campaign bumper stickers, but also on the ballot.

How did he get that nickname? According to an article in The Hill, when Ruppersberger was born, the doctor told his father, “You have a big, blond Dutchman.” The nickname stuck.

In Congress, Ruppersberger became the first freshman lawmaker to be appointed to the House Intelligence Committee, in part because at the time his district was home to the National Security Agency.

Rep. “Nancy [Pelosi] called me and said me, ‘Dutch, this is the first time we’ve done it, but we’re putting you on the committee,’” he remembered. “And I loved it. I was a former investigative prosecutor. I like action. I would like to make a difference. I hate bullies. This was a job that was really made for me.”

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U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, left, speaks with gubernatorial candidates Tom Perez, right, and Rushern L. Baker III, center, before a candidates forum on healthcare issues sponsored by the Maryland Democratic Party at BC Brewery on May 31, 2022. (Kaitlin Newman for The Baltimore Banner)
U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, left, speaks with gubernatorial candidates Tom Perez, right, and Rushern L. Baker III, center, before a candidates forum on healthcare issues sponsored by the Maryland Democratic Party at BC Brewery in 2022. (Kaitlin Newman for The Baltimore Banner) (Kaitlin Newman for The Baltimore Banner)

Ruppersberger rose to become the top-ranking Democrat on the committee and was part of the “gang of eight,” top lawmakers who are briefed on the most highly sensitive intelligence matters. It was in that role that Ruppersberger was one of the few people to see photographs of the body of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader who was killed by U.S. Navy Seals in 2011. He visited more than 50 countries through his work on the committee, he said.

Ruppersberger later moved to the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Ruppersberger chairs the U.S. Naval Academy’s Board of Visitors and continues to advocate for Shock Trauma, including serving on its board.

The congressman said his successor should have the ability to develop trust and relationships, and the willingness to work together and find compromise with people across the political spectrum.

“Whether you’re far right or far left, we all have constituents,” he said. “Let’s make decisions based on what’s right for your constituents, for the country, and stop all this petty fighting.”

Ruppersberger’s colleagues praised his service.

Rep. Steny Hoyer called him “the type of person you want representing you in Congress.” Congressman Kweisi Mfume praised Ruppersberger for a type of leadership “admired by members of the Congress on both sides of the aisle.” Former Sen. Barbara Mikulski said his “jolly wit, dedicated work ethic, and unflagging patriotism will be missed in the delegation and in the halls of Congress.

“His commitment — and the commitment of his wife Kay and family — to our state are clear,” U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen said in a news release. “He’ll be missed here in Congress but once Team Maryland, always Team Maryland.”

In a statement, Gov. Wes Moore said he has “no doubt that Congressman Ruppersberger, even in retirement, will continue to do exactly what we have become accustomed to in Maryland—fight on behalf of working families, uplifting the Baltimore community that he is so proud to call home, and cheering hard for the Ravens and the Orioles.”

With Ruppersberger’s retirement, three of Maryland’s eight seats in the House of Representatives will be open for this election year. In addition to Sarbanes’ departure from the 3rd District, 6th District U.S. Rep. David Trone is not running for reelection as he attempts to win an open seat in the U.S. Senate created by the retirement of Ben Cardin.

Cardin told The Baltimore Banner that Ruppersberger has been “an incredible public servant” across the length of his career.

“He’s been a great leader of our delegation,” the Democrat said. “He’ll be sorely missed in the Congress of the United States, but I congratulate him on just an incredible career and incredible devotion to public service.”

Baltimore Banner reporter Brenda Wintrode contributed to this article.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the month of an interview with Johnny Olszewski Jr. in which he signaled interest in running for a 2nd Congressional District seat.