California Rep. Elton Gallegly announced today that he will retire this year rather than face re-election after redistricting left him few good options.
"The decision to step aside at this time did not come lightly," the 13-term Republican said in a statement. "But in the end, Janice and I decided now was the right time to begin the next chapter in our lives."
Gallegly's retirement comes as little surprise. Gallegly would have had to challenge fellow GOP Rep. Buck McKeon in the 25th district if he wanted to seek another term. McKeon, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, is now heavily favored to win another term in the redrawn 25th district.
"The House of Representatives will miss Elton's service, expertise and experience as he concludes his congressional work after this Congress," National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) said in a statement.
Several Democrats are already running in the Ventura-based 26th district, which is the number of the district Gallegly currently represents. But Gallegly was drawn into the neighboring 25th during redistricting and he had been expected to try to run there if he chose to run at all.
With Gallegly retiring, state Sen. Tony Strickland (R) is expected to announce his candidacy in the 26th district. It is a swing district that national Democrats are targeting. Democrats hold a 6-point voter registration advantage there, and President Barack Obama would have won it by 17 points in 2008.
The candidate filing deadline in California is March 9.
Gallegly announced his intention to retire in 2006, but was convinced by party leaders to reconsider and run again because they were concerned about losing an open seat in a cycle where the political environment was very unfavorable for the GOP.
Gallegly is the 12th House Member and third Republican to announce his or her retirement this cycle. To see the other Members who are leaving check out Roll Call's Casualty List.