Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) announced plans to retire after nearly two decades in Congress on Wednesday.
After winning his election against a Democratic challenger by a narrow margin in 2016, Issa was considered by some to be the most vulnerable Republican in Congress. Hillary Clinton won his district by seven points in 2016.
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Representing the district, which spanned North San Diego and Southern Orange counties, was "the privilege of a lifetime," Issa said in a statement. The former chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee did not cite a reason for his decision to retire.
"Throughout my service, I worked hard and never lost sight of the people our government is supposed to serve," he said in a statement. "Yet, with the support of my family, I have decided that I will not seek re-election in California's 49th district."
A liberal 527 group, Flip the 49th Neighbors in Action, collected $440,000 for his defeat in recent months, including a $100,000 check from Jane Fonda and smaller donations from other celebrities, such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Ted Danson. The group has held weekly protests outside Issa's district office in Vista for nearly a year.
Issa faced a crowded field of Democrats, including his former challenger, Doug Applegate, a retired Marine and lawyer; Mike Levin, an environmental lawyer; Paul Kerr, a real estate developer; and Sara Jacobs, the granddaugther of Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs, who briefly worked for the United Nations and for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Jacobs was the latest to jump in, announcing her candidacy in mid-November. Qualcomm is a major force and employer in the district, with its headquarters located just miles away.
Issa's full statement follows:
Two decades ago, when I stepped away from the business I'd built to enter public service, I never could have imagined that a long-shot bid for U.S. Senate would lead to 18 years in the House of Representatives and endless opportunities to make a meaningful impact.
From the first successful recall of a sitting Governor in California history, to establishing new and stronger standards for government accountability, to protecting the Internet from harmful regulation, and enacting the nation's first open data standards, we attempted and achieved much in the service of our nation.
Together, we put an end to abusive Congressional earmarks, strengthened the Violence Against Women Act, empowered better oversight of the executive branch, and cleared the course for better intellectual property protections to stop the piracy of American ingenuity.
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.
I am forever grateful to the people of San Diego, Orange and Riverside counties for their support and affording me the honor of serving them all these years. Most humbling for me—and for anyone who represents this area—has been the special privilege of representing the Marines and Sailors of Camp Pendleton and their families. On countless occasions, and in every corner of the world I met them, I was inspired by their bravery and humbled by their sacrifice to keep us all safe from harm.
Representing you has been the privilege of a lifetime.
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.