Corrected 12/10 | Rep. George Holding announced Friday that he will not run for Congress again in 2020 in his own district or a neighboring one. The North Carolina Republican’s district became more Democratic on a new congressional map.
Holding’s decision comes after he said earlier this week that he would not run in a district that he could not win and that he would not challenge a sitting Republican in a neighboring, and more favorable, district.
Holding said in a statement that “the newly redrawn congressional districts were part of the reason I have decided not to seek reelection. But, in addition, this is also a good time for me to step back and reflect on what I have learned.”
He did leave the door open to running for office again, saying, “I am also hopeful that, if it is part of the Good Lord’s plan, I will someday return to public office.”
Holding is serving his fourth term in the House and sits on the Budget, Ethics, and Ways & Means committees.
Holding is the 18th Republican to retire from Congress and not run for another office so far this cycle. But, unlike Holding, many of the GOP retirements have come from lawmakers in solidly Republican districts, which has raised questions about whether Republicans are optimistic about winning back the House in 2020.
Six House Democrats have announced their retirements so far.
Even before the latest lines were drawn, Holding — who’s one of the wealthiest members of Congress — told the News & Observer he hadn’t been raising much money locally because he expected the state would be forced to draw new districts. “No one is entitled to a congressional district,” he said at the time.
He brought in $175,000 during the fundraising quarter that closed in September, including just $8,000 in itemized contributions of $200 or less. His chief of staff, Tucker Knott, left the congressman’s office in September to become a lobbyist for Pfizer.
Under the new North Carolina map, Holding’s 2nd District would have backed Democrat Hillary Clinton for president by 24 points in 2016, according to calculations by Daily Kos Elections. (President Donald Trump carried the current version of Holding’s district by 6 points.)
Republicans currently hold 10 of the state’s 13 districts, after only narrowly outpacing Democrats in statewide votes in 2018 House races. Democrats are expected to pick up two seats under the new lines, and the congressional map will change again after the 2020 census.
An earlier version incorrectly said how many terms Holding had won.