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Politics One of the richest members of Congress just joined a stampede of Republicans heading for the exits

Rep. Darrell Issa will retire from Congress this year, avoiding what was expected to be a difficult campaign fight in a district Democrats have targeted.

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WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 24: Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) speaks during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, October 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. The committee is hearing testimony from officials regarding the Ebola crisis and the coordination of the multi-agency response. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) play

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 24: Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) speaks during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, October 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. The committee is hearing testimony from officials regarding the Ebola crisis and the coordination of the multi-agency response. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

  • Republican Rep. Darrell Issa announced Wednesday that he would retire in 2018.
  • Issa's district in Southern California was a primary target for Democrats in the coming election cycle.


WASHINGTON — Republican Rep. Darrell Issa will retire from Congress in 2018, avoiding what was expected to be a difficult campaign fight in a district that has been a primary focus for Democrats in this year's election.

"Throughout my service, I worked hard and never lost sight of the people our government is supposed to serve," Issa said in a statement on Wednesday. "Yet with the support of my family, I have decided that I will not seek reelection in California's 49th District."

"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," added Issa, who with a net worth as high as $768 million is among the richest members of Congress.

Best known for his role as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Issa was one of Hillary Clinton's biggest foes while she was secretary of state, digging into her role in and response to the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.

Issa was one of 23 Republicans who narrowly retained their House seat in districts also won by Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. His departure marks yet another vulnerable Republican to bow out in what could be a tough midterm election cycle. Issa adds to the growing field of Republicans retiring at one of the fastest paces in decades.

Democrats' efforts to unseat Issa this year had already started to snowball. The billionaire megadonor Tom Steyer had dedicated $30 million to taking on Republicans in 2018, with Issa's wealthy Southern California district as a key race.

Democrats are already preparing to seize the seat

Steve Stivers, the National Republican Congressional Committee chair, thanked Issa for his service and expressed confidence in the coming race against a crowded Democratic field.

"In the 49th district, Democrats are locked in what is fast becoming one of the bloodiest primaries in America," Stivers said in a statement. "While Democrats fight with each other, Republicans will focus on fighting Democrats — and that's how we plan to win. We look forward to facing whoever limps out of the Democrats' battle royale: black and blue, and broke."

But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee suggested otherwise. The DCCC spokesman Drew Godinich said in a statement that "California Republicans clearly see the writing on the wall and realize that their party and its priorities are toxic to their re-election chances in 2018."

"Secretary Clinton won this district by a huge margin in 2016, and the cohort of strong Democratic challengers, unprecedented grassroots activism, and historic investment by the DCCC in Southern California means we are in a strong position to elect a Democrat to the 49th District this fall," Godinich added.