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Top Republican From a Swing-District Just Announced His Retirement Ahead Of 2018 Midterm Elections

As the impending blue wave that could sweep Republicans out of power gains momentum, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), the chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, announced Monday that he will not seek reelection in an increasingly competitive district.

The New Jersey Republican was facing his first competitive re-election race in decades and joins a growing roster of GOP veterans who are heading for the exits.

“Today as I announce my retirement at the end of this session of Congress, I want to use the opportunity to strongly encourage the many young people I meet to consider public service. I thank my friends and colleagues with whom I have served,” Frelinghuysen said in Monday statement, opening up another swing district ahead of the 2018 elections.

Frelinghuysen is the latest in a growing list of House Republicans facing tough paths to reelection opting to retire in what’s expected to be a challenging year for the GOP. Unlike other powerful committee chairmen, he just won his chairmanship and could continue to serve as chairman for five more years, so his decision is especially notable — and an extra-clear signal that his decision was driven by the political headwinds Republicans face this year.

His retirement is yet another boon for Democrats, who are seeking to take advantage of a growing number of open seats in districts already considered competitive.

Six House Republicans representing districts won by Clinton in 2016 won’t be seeking reelection, more than half of whom announced their plans within the last few weeks. They include House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), who is bound by committee term limits, and Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), Dave Reichert (Wash.), Darrell Issa (Calif.) and Patrick Meehan (Pa.).

Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), meanwhile, is running for the Senate instead of seeking reelection in her competitive Clinton-carried district.

Other open swing seats eyed by Democrats include those currently held by retiring Republican Reps. Frank LoBiondo (N.J.), Charlie Dent (Pa.) and Dave Trott (Mich.).

In another sign of a potentially difficult year for the party, House Republicans will have to deal with far more open seats this election cycle than Democrats.

House Republicans will have to defend at least 35 open seats this year due to retirements, resignations and lawmakers running for another office. Democrats, meanwhile, have less than half as many open seats as they seek to expand their electoral map.

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