Ed Royce, the veteran US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman and a friend of India, said on Tuesday he will not seek re-election, becoming the eighth Republican Chairman who has chosen to retire before midterm poll.
If Republicans maintain control of the House in the November elections, Representative Michael McCaul, a foreign affairs committee member who is now chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is seen as a possible new leader of the foreign affairs panel, congressional aides said. He said he would spend his final year as chairman fully focused on the "urgent threats facing our nation".
"Rep. Royce knows that if he ran for re-election in 2018, he would lose", Kurtz said in a statement, adding that it is "proof positive that Democrats are gaining momentum and ready to retake the House in 2018 with a wave election".
Royce's district is one of four Orange County Republican-held congressional districts targeted this year by Democrats.
Rep. Ed Royce announced Monday he will not be running for re-election.
Nonpartisan election handicapper Crystal Ball, which is led by Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, revised the rating for California's 39th Congressional District following Royce's announcement.
Still, Royce won reelection in 2016 by 15 percentage points and had $3.5 million in cash on hand as of the end of September, which put him financially far ahead of any challenger. The party holds every statewide office and controls both chambers of the Legislature by hefty margins.
The suburban district southeast of Los Angeles has significant chunks of Hispanic, Asian and highly educated voters, a combination "that makes Democrats salivate", said political scientist Jack Pitney, who teaches at Claremont McKenna College.
Longtime Orange County insiders were surprised at Royce's announcement.
Democrats need 24 seats nationwide to take Congress and restore the Speaker's gavel to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
The demographics of Royce's longtime GOP stronghold have changed significantly since he first was elected in 1992.
Though the 39th Congressional District is conservative and long seen as a Republican stronghold, Royce's departure could be a good sign for Democrats.
Royce, whose district is largely in Orange County, was among the House lawmakers considered vulnerable in the midterms.
According to Axios, 26 representatives have already announced their retirement, including 19 Republicans and just seven Democrats. Hatch is 83 and Shuster was barred by GOP rules from seeking another term atop his committee.