Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced Wednesday he will not seek reelection in November. The announcement was somewhat of a surprise, as Issa gave no specific reason for his departure.
The latest Republican retirement increases the chance of a Democratic pickup in California’s 49th Congressional District. The Democrats only need 24 seats in the 2018 mid-term elections to win majority control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Mr. Issa joins 25 fellow GOP representatives in the current Congress who will not return in January 2019. On Monday, Ed Royce, who represents the Golden State’s 39th District, also announced his retirement from Congress.
Issa, 64, barely clung to office in 2016 after a heated reelection campaign, narrowly defeating Democratic challenger, Doug Applegate.
Stating his service to the coastal area in-between San Diego and Los Angeles was the “privilege of a lifetime,” Issa released a statement which read:
“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.”
One of the wealthiest members of Congress with an estimated net worth of over $323 million, Issa built a fortune directing Steal Stoppers into a top supplier of car alarms for auto manufacturers. Shortly after selling the firm, Issa founded Directed Electronics, which eventually produced the Viper car alarm.
Entering politics, Issa sought the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate from California, but lost in the primary to state treasurer, Matt Fong.
Issa rebounded and won a seat in the House representing California’s 48th District in 2000. Following redistricting in 2002, Issa served the Golden State’s 49th District, winning reelection ever year since 2002.
However, since 2002, Issa has witnessed his margin of victory slip. Originally winning the 49th District with 72 percent in 2002, Issa’s majority from San Diego voters dropped, but he maintained strong support in Orange County.
In 2016, as his district continued to lean Democratic, Issa was returned with 50 percent of the vote. Issa blamed the loss of Orange County constituents, who generally vote Republican. Changing demographics in San Diego have also chipped away at his support, as the GOP now only enjoys a marginal registration advantage in the district.
A fierce critic of former President Obama, Issa led the House Oversight Committee from 2011–2015, which investigated Benghazi, Operation Fast and Furious, as well as alleged bias treatment of conservative political groups by the IRS.
Retired Marine officer, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez (R-Oceanside), a political moderate, has announced he will seek the GOP nomination for Issa’s House seat.
[Roll Call] [Wall Street Journal] [Fox News] [Center for Responsive Politics] [AP] [Photo courtesy Getty Images via Axios]