House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., announced Wednesday he is retiring from Congress.
“I will not be filing for re-election to Congress nor seeking any other political or elected office; instead I will be returning to the justice system,” he said in a statement. “Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in Congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system. As I look back on my career, it is the jobs that both seek and reward fairness that are most rewarding.”
Gowdy is the tenth GOP committee chairman to head for the exit this cycle.
“Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in Congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system,” he said.
There is a time to come and a time to go. This is the right time, for me, to leave politics and return to the justice system. Full statement here → pic.twitter.com/7I8AApqvs1
— Trey Gowdy (@TGowdySC) January 31, 2018
His retirement will breathe life into the fourth district’s GOP primary, as no substantial candidate had been willing to challenge Gowdy. The seat is almost certain to remain in Republican hands—President Trump won the district by 26 points in 2016 and voters haven’t elected a Democrat to the House in that seat in more than two decades, the Washington Examiner reports.
That fact will give Republicans a sigh of relief as they look at challenging 2018 midterm climate. While Gowdy leaves behind a safe seat, retirements by a handful of other top Republicans in the past few months has helped to expand the House battlefield.
The news comes less than a month after Gowdy stepped down from his spot on the House Ethics Committee, citing the “challenging workload” of his committee assignments on top of his chairmanship.
His background in law enforcement as well as his command of the Benghazi and Oversight committees gave Gowdy serious clout in the Republican caucus on those issues and a regular spot on cable news.
But despite that prominence, Gowdy at times faced speculation that he was nearing retirement. Gowdy’s office had to push back in 2015 after a speech at a closed-door GOP caucus meeting left some lawmakers raising questions about whether he was planning to leave.
He also bucked entreaties from some Republicans who wanted him to run for a leadership position in the wake of former-Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) retirement, which shook up the GOP leadership team.
Gowdy on Wednesday did not elaborate about his future plans outside of the reference to the “justice system.” He’s a former assistant U.S. attorney who served as a county solicitor in his home state of South Carolina before running for Congress in 2010.
Gowdy’s name has regularly been tossed around as a potential pick by the Trump administration to fill a judicial appointment.
While he’s denied that speculation in the past, a vacancy on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over South Carolina, opened up just one day before Gowdy announced his retirement.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
January 31st, 2018