Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., has become the latest in a growing string of Republican lawmakers announcing that they will not be running for reelection, as the South Carolina congressman revealed on Jan. 31, 2018, that he would be returning to work in the courts rather than the legislature.
“I will not be filing for re-election to Congress nor seeking any other political or elected office; instead I will be returning to the justice system. Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in Congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system. As I look back on my career, it is the jobs that both seek and reward fairness that are most rewarding,” Gowdy said in a statement released on Twitter.
“There is no perfect time to make this announcement, but with filing opening in six weeks, it is important to give the women and men of South Carolina who might be interested in serving ample time to reflect on the decision.”
Gowdy is now the most recent of 34 GOP members of the House that will not seek reelection in 2018. Of those, seven are seeking Senate seats and five are running for state office, leaving 22 who have decided to retire from public office entirely. By comparison, only eight Democrats have decided to retire from public office.
Technically, the first GOP congressman to announce his retirement was Jim Bridenstine of Oaklahoma, who promised in 2012 that he would not seek more than three terms in office. Rep. Sam Johnson of Texas became the first to announce his retirement during the 115th congress in January 2017.
Along with being the 22nd GOP member of the House to announce his retirement after the 2018 election, Gowdy is the ninth chairman to announce his retirement and the second House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chair to retire.
Jason Chaffetz, a former Republican representative for the state of Utah and original Oversight and Government Reform chair in 2017, unexpectedly announced his immediate retirement in June 2017, after indicating that he would not run for reelection in 2018.
Gowdy was elected in 2010 and made waves as chair of the highly partisan panel investigating the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, which uncovered the existence of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server. He has since called for greater details on the use of private emails by President Donald Trump’s advisors and has supported extending the probationary period for federal employees.
Unlike some of the announced GOP retirees, Gowdy represents a district that is very solidly Republican, as the party has won that seat every election since 1993.