Darrell Issa Abruptly Quits Congress As Democratic Wave Looms
In fear of being swept by the impending blue Tsunami, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election this year. The former House Oversight Committee chairman faced a tough path to reelection in an increasingly Democratic district.
Issa, who barely won reelection in 2016 by just over half a percentage point in a San Diego-area district that went for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton by about 7 points, is one of the most unpopular politicians in the U.S.
“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 re-election in California’s 49th District,” Issa said in a statement, according to The Hill.
Issa frequently clashed with Democrats on the committee as he pursued holding then-Attorney General Eric Holder and former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress over a gun-tracking program.
Issa’s retirement offers yet another boon to House Democrats in California over the last three days.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), who also represents a district won by Clinton, announced on Monday that he won’t seek reelection this year either.
“California Republicans clearly see the writing on the wall and realize that their party and its priorities are toxic to their re-election chances in 2018,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Drew Godinich.
Democrats need to flip 24 seats to win back the House majority.
His departure means that House Republicans will have to defend at least 31 open seats this year due to retirements and resignations. By contrast, House Democrats will only have 15 open seats so far.
Eight House GOP committee chairmen have decided to call it quits this election cycle, including three in the last week: Royce, House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and House Administration Committee Chairman Gregg Harper (R-Miss.).
Without Issa on the ballot, the primary to nominate candidates for the district this year could be messy, increasing Democrats’ chances of flipping his swing district in their favor.
Issa’s retirement is another data point in the signs of a possible Democratic wave in this year’s midterm elections.