California Republican Ed Royce not seeking re-election

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Rep. Ed Royce of California said Monday he will not seek re-election after serving out his 13th term in the House, the latest in a string of committee chairmen who have announced their retirement.

Whether or not he sought re-election, Royce was stepping down as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee this year. He said he would spend his final year as chairman fully focused on the “urgent threats facing our nation.”

But it’s also clear the congressman was facing one of the most challenging elections of his career.

In last year’s presidential election, Democrat Hillary Clinton defeated Republican Donald Trump in California’s 39th Congressional District. That prompted the campaign arm for congressional Democrats to target Royce’s district in Southern California as one they hoped to flip in their midterm effort to take control of the House.

Royce won in 2016 with more than 57 percent of the vote, and Republicans hold a narrow edge in voter registration.

Royce had appeared to be gearing up for another campaign: He had $3.4 million stockpiled in his campaign account as of September, the most recent numbers available.

“It wasn’t a re-election problem, that’s for sure,” said Republican National Committeeman Shawn Steel, who called Royce’s announcement “a shocker.”

But the district, like much of California, has been growing increasingly favorable for Democratic candidates. The party holds every statewide office and controls both chambers of the Legislature by hefty margins.

Trump lost the state in 2016 by more than 4 million votes and Clinton carried Orange County, once a Republican fortress, by nearly 9 percentage points.

The suburban district southeast of Los Angeles has significant chunks of Hispanic, Asian and highly educated voters, a combination “that makes Democrats salivate,” said political scientist Jack Pitney, who teaches at Claremont McKenna College.

“In the suburbs, Trump is toxic,” Pitney said.

Royce became the 29th House Republican to announce a decision not to seek re-election this year, compared to 14 Democrats. With Trump’s popularity in the dumps and a string of election victories in recent weeks, Democrats have hopes of gaining the 24 seats they would need to win control of the chamber.

In a press release announcing his retirement, Royce cited the tax cut bill passed in December and the crackdown on the global ivory trade as among recent accomplishments.

Republican Rep. Steve Stivers, the chairman of the National…

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