Another Top Republican Congressional Leader to Retire

Another longtime, prominent Republican is stepping down from office ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

The Los Angeles Times reports that nine-term Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) will not seek reelection at the end of his current term:

“Throughout my service, I worked hard and never lost sight of the people our government is supposed to serve. Yet with the support of my family, I have decided that I will not seek reelection in California’s 49th District,” Issa said in a statement.

“I am forever grateful to the people of San Diego, Orange and Riverside counties for their support and affording me the honor of serving them all these years. Most humbling for me — and for anyone who represents this area — has been the special privilege of representing the Marines and sailors of Camp Pendleton and their families. On countless occasions, and in every corner of the world I met them, I was inspired by their bravery and humbled by their sacrifice to keep us all safe from harm. Representing you has been the privilege of a lifetime.”

The Times adds that Issa has not yet given a specific reason for why he’s calling it quits, though the speculation is that Issa did not expect to survive reelection in 2018. Though Issa narrowly won in 2016, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in his district, and the changing demographics of the area continue to grow more favorable to Democrats.

Democrats have made clear their path to reclaiming the U.S. House majority must pass through Southern California, and open-seat races could make that task a bit easier. On the other hand, Republicans could recruit strong and experienced candidates who might fare better against a crowded field of Democratic hopefuls, many who are seeking office for the first time.

Without incumbents in those races, it also will be more difficult for the Democrats to deploy their national strategy of tying the Republican candidate to Trump, who is widely unpopular in California. In Issa’s northern San Diego and southern Orange County district, nearly 38% of registered voters are Republicans.

Over the years, Issa was most well known to those outside California as the former chair of the House Oversight Committee, a role that made him a cable news fixture for speaking out against various Obama Administration scandals. Most recently, he voted against the recently-enacted GOP tax bill, which was presumably an attempt to appease increasingly liberal, increasingly dissatisfied constituents.

Issa is the latest in a string of congressional Republicans who are leaving Congress for various reasons — some personal, some due to scandal, and some because they’ve seen the writing on the wall for their future political prospects. Fox News rounds up the previous departures:

– Joe Barton
– Jason Chaffetz
– Bob Corker
– Charlie Dent
– Jimmy Duncan
– Blake Farenthold
– Jeff Flake
– Trent Franks
– Bob Goodlatte
– Orrin Hatch
– Jeb Hensarling
– Lynn Jenkins
– Sam Johnson
– Raul Labrador
– Frank LoBiondo
– Tim Murphy
– Kristi Noem
– Steve Pearce
– Ted Poe
– Dave Reichert
– Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
– Ed Royce
– Bill Shuster
– Lamar Smith
– Luther Strange
– Pat Tiberi
– Dave Trott

While much of this could be taken as a sign that Republicans fear a Democrat wave in the midterms — and the GOP would certainly be fools to take anything for granted — it may not be that exceptional after all. According to Roll Call’s Nathan Gonzales, “Since 1976, 22 House members, on average, have retired each cycle without seeking another office.”