Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) announced his intent to retire from Congress on Wednesday.
Gowdy’s sudden exit brings the total number of GOP House members retiring or seeking other office to 38. Seventeen House Democrats have already announced plans to retire at the end of the 115th Congress.
Democrats now only need to flip 24 House seats in order to regain majority control of Congress’ lower chamber.
In a brief statement released by his office, Gowdy offered hints at frustration serving in the lower chamber eerily similar to the disgust Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) provided a little more than a week ago when announcing his intent to seek reelection.
“I will not be filing for re-election to Congress nor seeking any other political or elected office; instead I will be returning to the justice system. Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in Congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system. As I look back on my career, it is the jobs that both seek and reward fairness that are most rewarding.”
Gowdy’s exit and statement has fueled speculation he will pursue a judicial vacancy, most likely one on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of South Carolina should a vacancy arise.
Gowdy, 53, was first elected among a wave of GOP congressmen in 2010. A Tea Party member, Gowdy sat on the House committees of the Judiciary, Oversight and Government Reform and Select Intelligence.
As chairman of the House Select Committee probing the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Gowdy relentlessly pursued former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who was serving as secretary of state at the time of the attacks.
Gowdy frequently clashed with ranking minority member, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), over the committee’s handling of witnesses and alleged bias against Clinton.
It was the Benghazi committee hearing in which the existence of Hillary Clinton’s private server was uncovered. The committee was disbanded in late 2016; its final report did not single Clinton out for wrongdoing.
A four-term congressman from Spartanburg, S.C., Gowdy received his law degree from the University of South Carolina and worked in private practice until 1994 when was appointed to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Gowdy later ran for and served as solicitor for South Carolina’s circuit court, a role he fulfilled until 2000.
In 2010, Gowdy upended three-term GOP congressman Bob Inglis and has served as the 4th District’s representative since 1992.
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