Doug Thompson, the founder and publisher of Capitol Hill Blue, the Internet’s oldest continually-published political news site, is stepping down, effective immediately, to return to local journalism.

Thompson, 58, is turning day-to-day management of the site over to a consortium of Washington-based journalists who will publish Capitol Hill Blue in addition to their regular jobs with mainstream print publications and broadcast media.

Theresa Hampton, who has twice served as editor of Capitol Hill Blue in the past, will take over as editor/publisher.

Thompson wrote a farewell of sorts in The Rant, his long-time column for the web site Saturday but left open the possibility he might return to writing about politics sometime in the future.

“I’ve decided to stand down for a while. Take a breather. A break, if you will, from all this madness called politics,” Thompson wrote. “At this point, I don’t know if it will be a permanent break or not. I’m tired and this tilting at windmills business is exhausting.”

Thompson started Capitol Hill Blue as a weekly web publication on October 1, 1994. He went daily on January 1, 1995, and Blue has published continuously ever since. The web publication broke many stories on misdeeds in the Clinton administration during that President’s second term and has been a leader in breaking major stories on corruption in the Bush administration.

“I’ve been writing about the foibles, corruption and misdeeds of politicians for more than 40 years but the system we have today is worse than ever,” Thompson says. “I’m no longer sure that trying to educate a deaf audience through journalism is worth the time or the effort.

“So I’m going to take the time to rest and consider other options,” he added. “If there is a better way, maybe I can find it. If not, maybe I will be back.”

In recent months, Thompson has been working as a writer-photographer for the weekly newspaper in his home town and will expand his work with that publication.  He began his journalism career with that paper while still a high school student more than 40 years ago.

“I’ve often felt that local journalism is the only true reporting left,” he said. “I find more satisfaction on reporting on actions of the county board of supervisors because they more directly interact with voters and residents of the county. In addition, photographing high school sports has long been a true love and I’m happy to return to it after more than four decades.”

Thompson also said he is turning ownership of Capitol Hill Blue over to a private foundation and that he will have no say in either the management of the publication or the content it publishes.