House Foreign Affairs chairman to retire
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) announced Monday he will retire at the end of the year.
Royce is now the eighth House panel chairman to opt against seeking reelection in 2018.
He would have potentially faced a tough path to reelection given that his district has become more competitive. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won it by about 9 points in 2016 even as Royce, who has served in the House since 1993, won reelection by 14 points.
He also would have had to return to the House as a rank-and-file member and relinquish his Foreign Affairs gavel due to the GOP’s rules limiting chairmen to three consecutive terms.
“In this final year of my Foreign Affairs Committee chairmanship, I want to focus fully on the urgent threats facing our nation, including: the brutal, corrupt and dangerous regimes in Pyongyang and Tehran, Vladimir Putin’s continued efforts to weaponize information to fracture western democracies, and growing terrorist threats in Africa and Central Asia,” Royce said in a statement.
“With this in mind, and with the support of my wife Marie, I have decided not to seek reelection in November,” he said.
Royce’s retirement could make it easier for Democrats to seize a top pickup opportunity in a district won by Clinton.
The nonpartisan Cook Political Report adjusted its prognostication for Royce’s district from “Lean Republican” to “Lean Democratic” after his retirement announcement.
But the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) sounded bullish on its chances for keeping the seat red.
“Orange County has no shortage of Republican talent and a highly organized ground effort with the NRCC at the forefront. We have just one message for Democrats who think they can compete for this seat: bring it on,” NRCC chairman Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) said in a statement.
Royce is the latest House Republican in a district at the top of Democrats’ target list to opt against seeking reelection in what’s expected to be a challenging midterm cycle for the party.
Two other Republicans who represent districts carried by Clinton in 2016 are also retiring: Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.) and Dave Reichert (Wash.).