WASHINGTON — Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said he will not run for re-election, as he was a primary target for Democrats in their hopes of winning seats and House control.
“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.
His district covers areas of San Diego and Orange counties, and his retirement comes just days after another GOP congressman from the area, Ed Royce, announced that he also would not run.
Underscoring his recognition of his vulnerabilities, Issa voted against the Republican tax bill last month. Residents in his district face a tax increase because of the limitation of state and local tax deductions.
Issa was narrowly re-elected in 2016, defeating Democrat Douglas Applegate by less than 2,000 votes, and is in a district that Hillary Clinton won, 51% to 43%, over Donald Trump. Still, Issa is the richest member of Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and would have had a big monetary advantage over any challenger. After Issa’s announcement, Cook Political Report switched its rating for the race from “Toss Up” to “Leans Democratic.”
His retirement makes him the 31st House Republican not seeking reelection.
Issa was a key voice on Capitol Hill on copyright and music industry issues. He is chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee on courts, intellectual property, and the internet, and serves on an antitrust subcommittee. The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), also has announced his retirement, setting up a series of vacancies and questions about who would be in line for leadership should the GOP retain control of the House.
Issa has served in Congress since 2001, and two years later helped lead the effort to recall Governor Gray Davis, a Democrat.
The Recording Academy called Issa “a great champion of fair compensation for artists. We will miss his friendship, leadership and humor.”