The 12-term Republican said his position as a term-limited subcommittee chairman and the disappearance of the political “middle ground” contributed to his decision.
“As I am term-limited as Chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee and in my position on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, now is appropriate time to leave,” LoBiondo said in a Tuesday statement.
“Furthermore, as some of my closest colleagues have also come to realize, those of us who came to Congress to change Washington for the better through good governance are now the outliers,” LoBiondo said.
He’s among a handful of GOP moderates who have already announced their retirements this year.
“In legislating, we previously fought against allowing the perfect to become the enemy of the good. Today a vocal and obstinate minority within both parties has hijacked good legislation in pursuit of no legislation,” he said.
LoBiondo, first elected in 1994, represents a South Jersey district that President Donald Trump carried by less than 5 points, according to calculations by Daily Kos Elections. District voters previously supported former President Barack Obama in both his elections.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee made LoBiondo an early target for 2018 and will go after an open seat even more aggressively. In the past, Democrats have struggled to recruit candidates to challenge LoBiondo because of his strong labor support and moderate voting record.
He recently bucked his party on the GOP health care plan and the budget blueprint that called for eliminating the deduction for state and local taxes that benefits many New Jersey residents.
LoBiondo said his decision didn’t have anything to do with his electoral prospects.
“Throughout my career I have always made my constituents and the interests of my district my top priority, therefore I am very confident voters would again reelect me,” he said.
“While Frank’s leadership will be sorely missed, I am fully confident a strong Republican nominee will hold the seat and continue delivering results for the 2nd District,” Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement.
Republicans who could eye the seat include Assemblyman Chris Brown, who is running for state Senate on Tuesday, Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian, who is up for re-election Tuesday, and Atlantic County Sheriff Frank Balles.
State Sen. Jeff Van Drew, state Sen. Fred Madden and retired state Superior Court Judge Raymond Batten are three Democrats who could make a run for the district.
The party has been after Van Drew, a conservative Democrat, or years. South Jersey powerbroker George Norcross urged Van Drew to run Tuesday, The Star-Ledger reported.