Darrell Issa calls it quits: California Republican won't seek reelection

Issa is the second California Republican to announce his retirement this week

By Matthew Rozsa
Published January 10, 2018 1:18PM (EST)
 (AP Photo/Molly Riley, File)
(AP Photo/Molly Riley, File)

Yet another Republican congressman is choosing to retire rather than run for reelection, leaving the GOP's hold on the House of Representatives in further peril.

Rep. Darrell Issa of California announced his retirement on Wednesday, according to CNN. Issa's decision marks the second time in two days that a Republican congressman from California has publicly declared that they would rather retire at the end of their current term than seek a new one. Issa's situation was particularly dire because, despite achieving national celebrity as an outspoken conservative firebrand, Issa barely survived his reelection campaign in 2016, besting Democratic candidate Douglas Applegate by less than one percentage point.

"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 explained in an official press statement.

Issa has joined more than 30 other congressional Republicans who have announced that they will not seek reelection, which increases the Democratic Party's chances of reclaiming the House of Representatives. On Tuesday, one of Issa's California colleagues, Rep. Ed Royce, also announced that he would not seek reelection.

In addition to imperiling the GOP's chances of success in the 2018 midterm elections, Issa's decision may also make it harder for Republican legislative leaders to cut entitlement spending and achieve many of their other more ambitious policy goals for 2018.

"It's going to be difficult for Republicans to get this passed because it's an election year," Noah Rothman, associate editor of Commentary Magazine, told Salon last week. "And it's always difficult to cut non-discretionary spending. But when you call it 'per capita block grants to states' for just Medicaid, which is definitely on the table, than maybe it's something they can get away with. And maybe it's something they can find bipartisan support for. I kinda doubt it, but they're gonna have to try."

Issa's statement is also noteworthy because it marks an abrupt departure from his position only two months earlier. According to CNN's Manu Raju, Issa said in November that there was a 100 percent chance that he would seek another term. "I enjoy the job I'm doing," Issa told CNN.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa