SANTA ANA, Calif. (FOX 11/CNS) - Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, who represents coastal areas of San Diego County and part of Orange County, announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election to Congress, where he has served 18 years.
``Throughout my service, I worked hard and never lost sight of the people our government is supposed to serve,'' he said in a statement issued in Washington, D.C. ``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,'' he said, adding he is especially humbled to have represented the residents of the U.S. Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton.
The 64-year-old, nine-term congressman did not immediately say why he won't run for Congress later this year or what he plans to do next.
The former chairman of the House Oversight Committee narrowly won re- election in 2016 -- by just 0.6 percentage points against Democrat Doug Applegate -- and was widely considered the most vulnerable incumbent in the House going into the 2018 election. The richest man in Congress, he has already drawn a handful of well funded opponents.
The Army veteran and businessman has also faced weekly protests over the past year, with roughly 300 people gathering each week -- and sometimes more than double that number -- outside his Vista office. The protests have sometimes been general and other times targeted specific decisions or issues like health care or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
''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...,'' he said in his statement, in which he took at least partial credit for several developments, including the recall of California Governor Gray Davis, ''an end to abusive Congressional earmarks,'' the strengthening of the Violence against Women Act, and strengthening standards for government accountability.
Officials from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee immediately released a statement cheering Issa's decision as a victory for California's 49th District and the country as a whole.
``The Republican agenda in Washington has been a direct attack on Californians,'' DCCC spokesperson Drew Godinich said in a statement. ``After passing a devastating tax scam and fighting to rip away healthcare from millions of families, 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.''
Four Democrats, including Applegate, have already announced they will run for Issa's seat. Orange County environmental attorney Mike Levin, San Diego real estate investor Paul Kerr and Sara Jacobs, a former State Department employee under President Barack Obama, have all launched bids for the seat. It wasn't immediately clear who might run as a Republican.