California Rep. Gary G. Miller announced Wednesday he will not seek re-election.
“It has been a great honor to spend so many years in public service, striving to make a difference for Southern California families," Miller said in a statement. "While there is still a lot of work to be done, it is now time for me to pass the baton."
Miller, first elected in 1998, entered this cycle as the most vulnerable Republican up for re-election. He represents a Southern California district President Barack Obama carried with 57 percent of the vote in 2012.
In perhaps the top pickup opportunity for Democrats this cycle, the candidates already seeking the seat include Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar, attorney Eloise Gomez Reyes and former Rep. Joe Baca.
Miller's retirement makes it far more likely that two Democrats will advance beyond the June 3 top-two primary. Emily's List, which is backing Reyes, released a statement shortly after Miller's announcement noting that her path "just got clearer." Reyes raised $302,000 in the fourth quarter, while Aguilar, who failed to advance in the 2012 primary, raised $147,000 and Baca raised just $20,000. Miller brought in $149,000 and ended 2013 with more than $900,000 in cash on hand.
Two Republican names mentioned as potential contenders in the immediate aftermath of Miller's retirement announcement included state Assemblymen Curt Hagman and Mike Morrell. Still, this is a difficult district for any Republican.
Following the 2011 redistricting, as southern California incumbents scrambled to stake their territory, Miller was a man without a district. But after Republican David Dreier's retirement, Miller jumped to the San Bernardino-based 31st and became one of the luckiest incumbents of the cycle.
Democrats split the vote in the top-two primary, shutting out Aguilar, and allowing Miller and a fellow Republican to advance to the general.
Roll Call previously rated Miller's re-election as one of the most fascinating races of the cycle.
Gary G. Miller is the 18th House member, 11th Republican and 2nd Miller from California to announce their retirement this cycle. For the rest, see Roll Call's casualty list .