INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Rep. Mark Souder, an eight-term Republican who promoted abstinence education, said Tuesday he’ll resign from Congress after admitting an extramarital affair with a part-time staff member.
Souder won a bruising primary just two weeks ago, and the resignation effective Friday could hurt the GOP’s chances of holding on to the Republican-leaning district in November in a year that many expect will favor the party.
Souder, an evangelical Christian who has championed family values and traditional marriage, apologized for his actions but provided no details during a news conference in Fort Wayne.
“I am so ashamed to have hurt the ones I love,” he said as he battled tears. “I am sorry to have let so many friends down, people who have worked so hard for me.”
A spokeswoman from Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels’ office said a special election will be held to fill the vacancy. The winner would complete the remainder of Souder’s term that ends in January.
Throughout his time in Congress, Souder made his evangelical Christianity a centerpiece of his public persona. He was known for his outspoken views on religion and his uncompromising conservative positions on social issues such as abortion.
He said after a 2008 hearing on abstinence-only education that the only fully reliable way young people can protect themselves from pregnancy and STDs is by “abstaining from sex until in a committed, faithful relationship.”
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