Darrell Issa bows out

One of the most consistently conservative voices in Congress, as well as a frequent critic of the Obama administration, will be joining the ranks of members leaving government work at the end of this term. Darrell Issa has announced that he will not be seeking reelection in California’s 49th district. In his position as Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Issa frequently made headlines for the investigations he launched, covering nearly every aspect of government operations.NBC News broke the announcement late this morning.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., one of the most prominent and endangered Republicans in Congress, has decided not to run for reelection in November, becoming the latest in a string of vulnerable GOP incumbents to retire ahead of midterm elections expected to favor Democrats.

Issa, who made a national name for himself as an Obama administration antagonist while leading a House investigative committee, will not seek another term, NBC News has confirmed.

The Southern California Republican, who is the wealthiest member of Congress, was nearly unseated in 2016 in when Democrat Douglas Applegate came within fewer than 2,000 votes of the incumbent. Applegate quickly declared he would mount a re-match in in 2018.

This retirement announcement didn’t come as all that much of a shock to political observers. While he no doubt would have been willing to serve for a while longer, Issa’s seat in southern California has been increasingly threatened, largely due to demographic shifts in the region he represents to the north of San Diego. As NBC News points out, his last race came down to a photo finish, giving him only a bit more than a1,500 vote margin in a race where Democrats spent generously and there were more than 310,000 votes cast. This is a major shift from previous cycles in the 49th (and originally the 48th where he served before redistricting following the 2000 census) when Issa handily won with margins ranging from 58 to as much as 70 percent. And there’s no sign that the tide was shifting back his way this year.

Rather than facing another bruising race where there was a distinct possibility he might lose, it’s not hard to see why he’s preparing to head home. But NBC seems to be attempting to overreach a bit when they describe it as part of a coming Democratic wave. Each race is unique, as are each of the congressional districts. Much of California is tough sledding for Republicans to begin with, and the greater San Diego region has been getting progressively less friendly for the GOP in recent years.

Hillary Clinton carried California by a huge margin in 2016, no doubt cutting even further into Issa’s margin, so perhaps he might have prevailed in a midterm race. But at the same time, all of California is now a “sanctuary state” and they consider themselves to be the heartbeat of #RESIST Central, so who can say? That seat may simply be out of reach for the GOP in the foreseeable future.

Here’s Issa’s statement on Twitter with a link to his full announcement. Thank you for your service, Congressman.