GOP House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte Won’t Seek Re-Election

US Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., , gestures as he speaks during a gala prior start of the Virginia GOP Convention   in Roanoke, Va., Friday, June 6, 2014.    (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Steve Helber/AP

House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) announced on Thursday morning that he will retire at the end of his term, leaving yet another Republican House seat open in the 2018 midterm elections.

Goodlatte is one of several powerful Republican members of Congress to call it quits ahead of 2018, and his announcement comes two days after Democrats trounced Republicans Tuesday night in several races for state office. Democrats won the governor’s mansion in Virginia, as well the lieutenant governor and attorney general race, and they made significant pickups in the state legislature, prompting some Virginia Republicans to worry about the future of the party in their state.

The congressman said that since his term as chair of the Judiciary Committee will expire in 2018, it’s a good time for him to retire.

“With my time as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee ending in December 2018, this is a natural stepping-off point and an opportunity to begin a new chapter of my career and spend more time with my family, particularly my granddaughters,” he said in a statement.

House Science Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX), a former Judiciary chair, announced last week that he will retire at the end of 2018, also citing the end of his chairmanship as a factor in his decision. House Financial Services Committee Chair Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), another powerful member, also recently announced that he will retire at the end of his term.

Several Republican members of Congress have also cited the state of the GOP and politics at large when announcing their retirements, including Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Though some Republicans, such as LoBiondo, merely mentioned political polarization when announcing their retirements, Flake and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) tore into Trump after they decided to ditch Congress.

In a speech announcing his retirement, Flake bashed the “coarseness of our leadership” and the “regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals.” Corker has let loose on Trump since announcing he won’t seek re-election, calling the White House an “adult daycare center” and warning that the President could put the U.S. “on the path to World War III.”

Read Goodlatte’s full statement:

When I first decided to run for Congress there were several things I wanted to achieve for the Commonwealth of Virginia and our nation. I had a strong passion for public service, a love of the law and the judicial system, and a deep appreciation for the people who call western and central Virginia home. These passions led me to serve on the Judiciary and Agriculture Committees throughout my time in the House, and have shaped my work on policies impacting the American people. I’ve had the privilege to serve as Chairman of both of these committees, and I’ve been proud to work on policies that have become law and advance fiscal conservatism, personal liberty, economic growth, and limited government.

For the past 25 years, it has been my honor to represent the Sixth Congressional District of Virginia. I cannot begin to express how blessed I am to have had the opportunity to serve and take part in the great experiment of self-government envisioned by our Founders. It has been a labor of love to work countless hours and travel endless miles on the roads of our District for a quarter of a century.

Every two years, Maryellen and I sat down to discuss whether to run again or not. When we discussed the 2018 election, the conversation ended a little differently than in past years. After much contemplation and prayer, we decided it was the right time for me to step aside and let someone else serve the Sixth District. I will not seek re-election. With my time as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee ending in December 2018, this is a natural stepping-off point and an opportunity to begin a new chapter of my career and spend more time with my family, particularly my granddaughters.

While I’m not running for re-election, my work in the 115th Congress is far from done. There is much that I hope we can accomplish in the next year, including: bolstering enforcement of our immigration laws and reforming the legal immigration system, simplifying the tax code in order to stimulate job growth and benefit families in the Sixth District, enacting criminal justice reform, repealing Obamacare, advancing protections of the freedoms and liberties enshrined in our Constitution, and, of course, continuing first-class constituent service for the citizens of the Sixth District. I look forward to working with the House Leadership, the Senate, and President Trump in bringing real conservative change to our country.

I extend my deepest thanks to the people of Virginia’s Sixth District who have placed their trust in me. It is truly you who are the highlight of my time in elected office. I’ve had the good fortune of having an amazing staff team during my time in Congress – both in my Sixth District offices as well as in the Judiciary and Agriculture Committees. They’ve done excellent work, and I greatly value their commitment to serving the Sixth District and the American people. I’d also like to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in Congress with whom I’ve had the opportunity to work over the years. I genuinely appreciate your friendship and support. And finally, none of this would have been possible without the love and support of my wife, Maryellen, and our children, Bobby, Jen, and Jen’s husband, Matt. They have my enduring love and gratitude.

I look forward to what the next chapter brings.