California Rep. Darrell Issa, Hillary Clinton's one-time chief antagonist, plans to retire

Darrell Issa to retire from Congress amid record GOP exodus

San Diego-area Congressman Darrell Issa will not run for reelection this year, the second California Republican to announce his retirement this week. In 2016, the district's voters preferred Clinton by 8 points over Republican Donald Trump.

Democrats need to flip 24 seats to win the majority in the lower chamber of Congress.

Issa, former chairman of the House Oversight Committee, won reelection in 2016 by just over half a percent - about 1,600 votes - and was widely considered the most vulnerable Republican in the House going into this year's election.

But he'd maintained he meant to run for re-election, telling CNN in November that hew as 100% certain he'd seek another term.

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Issa built a national profile as the chief congressional antagonist to Obama and his administration during his tenure as ranking member and then chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee between 2008 and 2015. He presided over contentious hearings into the attack on the United States embassy in Benghazi, Libya, and on the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups.

More Republican incumbents have already said they will retire this year (18) than the number of Democrats who did so ahead of the 2010 midterm elections (11), which swept Republicans into power, according to a former Democratic campaign official. Fellow veteran Southern California lawmaker Ed Royce, of Orange County, revealed Monday he, too, will leave Congress after 2018.

Issa has been the representative of the 49th District since 2003.

DCCC spokesman Drew Godinich said in a statement that "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". California does not hold partisan primaries, but rather has a "jungle" primary that sends two candidates of any party to the November general election. His seat was expected to be one of the nation's most hotly contested congressional races.

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