ThinkProgress

Issa adds to record-breaking number of Republican retirements ahead of midterms

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) questions Massachusetts Institute of Technology Economics professor Jonathan Gruber about his work on the Affordable Care Act. CREDIT: Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) announced Wednesday that he will be retiring ahead of the 2018 midterms. Issa becomes the 30th House Republican to announce his retirement ahead of the election, breaking the record 29 Republican seats open in 2008.

“Throughout my service, I worked hard and never lost sight of the people our government is supposed to serve,” Issa said in a statement announcing his retirement. “Yet with the support of my family, I have decided that I will not seek re-election in California’s 49th District.”

Issa first took office in 2001, and he won his most recent election by a margin of just 1,621 votes. From 2011 to 2015, Issa served as the chairman of the House oversight committee, and, as chair, he aggressively investigated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s role in the 2012 Benghazi attacks and worked to sabotage the Obama administration’s Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and the investigation into the BP oil spill.

In 2011, Issa said President Trump “may or may not” be right about Obama’s birth certificate.

In recent months, the congressman made news after hiding on the roof of his district office while protesters gathered outside the building. In August, Issa called for hearings on white supremacist groups, but ThinkProgress reported that just two months earlier, Issa had appeared at a conference for a group the Southern Poverty Law Center has deemed a white nationalist hate group.

But Issa had a knack for scandal long before he ran for Congress. In the early 1970’s, Issa was accused of auto theft multiple times, and he was arrested and pleaded guilty to carrying a concealed weapon. In the early 1980’s Issa was also accused of setting a warehouse full of electronics on fire for the insurance money.

Issa is also one of the wealthiest members of Congress, with a net worth of more than $430 million.

The congressman recently told CNN he enjoyed his job and was preparing to run again, and his retirement is the latest sign of what appears to be a Democratic wave in the 2018 midterms. Issa is the second California Republican to announce his retirement this week, after Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) announced he was retiring after this term Monday.

Issa’s district is located in San Diego County, which went 56-36 for Clinton in 2016, and his seat was considered a possible pick-up for Democrats even before Issa announced his plans to retire. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) was confident about the prospect of picking up Issa’s seat in a statement Wednesday.

“Clinton won this district by a huge margin in 2016,” DCCC spokesperson Drew Godinich said in a release. “We are in a strong position to elect a Democrat to the 49th District this fall.”

A number of Democrats have already announced their plans to run for Issa’s seat. Democrat Douglas Applegate, who lost to Issa by only a little more than 1,000 votes in 2016, is running again.