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Rep. Darrell Issa announces he won’t seek re-election amid wave of House GOP retirements

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is joined by Republican members of Congress on Nov. 9 during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. After 18 years in the House, Issa announced Wednesday that he will retire at the end of his term. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced Wednesday that he will retire at the end of his term, becoming the latest lawmaker in a string of retirements among House Republicans.

What did Issa say?

In a statement, Issa said, "Two decades ago, when I stepped away from the business I'd built to enter public service, I never could have imagined that a long-shot bid for U.S. Senate would lead to 18 years in the House of Representatives and endless opportunities to make a meaningful impact.”

“Throughout my service, I worked hard and never lost sight of the people our government is supposed to serve,” he continued. “Yet with the support of my family, I have decided that I will not seek re-election in California's 49th District.”

Issa said he is “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.” He added that representing the Marines and sailors at Camp Pendleton and their families was a “special privilege.”

“While my service to California's 49th District will be coming to an end, I will continue advocating on behalf of the causes that are most important to me, advancing public policy where I believe I can make a true and lasting difference, and continuing the fight to make our incredible nation an even better place to call home," he said.

Roll Call noted that Issa’s decision not to seek re-election to Congress will open up a competitive House seat in California. Issa was considered one of the most vulnerable House incumbents approaching the 2018 midterm election. Roll Call also reported that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee plans to target Republican-held districts in Southern California.

Who else is leaving?

Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also announced this week that he will not seek re-election. USA Today reported that his retirement will leave the Orange County seat vulnerable to a Democratic candidate. Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) also announced this month that he will retire at the end of his term.

And Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) announced last week that he would run for governor rather than seek re-election to the House. Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott is term-limited from running for re-election and is reportedly eyeing a bid for the U.S. Senate.

According to NPR, there are currently 31 Republican lawmakers who will not seek re-election in November. Of those, 19 are retiring while 12 are running for another office instead.

In addition to DeSantis, lawmakers seeking a different office include Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who is running for Senate, and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), who is running for governor.

NPR noted that the last time a party had a wave of retiring members during a midterm year was in 1994. That year, 28 Democrats left the House, and Republicans gained a majority.

According to the House Press Gallery, 16 Democrats elected to the 115th Congress won’t seek re-election in 2018, although that number includes some who have already vacated their roles such as former California Rep. Xavier Becerra, who is now the state’s attorney general, and former Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), who retired last month in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations.

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