California Rep. Darrell Issa not seeking re-election in 2018

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Rep. Darrell Issa on Wednesday announced his retirement from Congress after almost two decades of service.

Issa's decision makes him the 30th Republican House member to not seek re-election this year, a number that has steadily grown in the last several months.

Democrats had made defeating Issa one of their top priorities in the midterm elections. He presided over contentious hearings into the attack on the United States embassy in Benghazi, Libya, and on the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups.

First elected in 2000, Issa's retirement ends the career of a figure who rose to prominence during former President Barack Obama's tenure, after he took the helm of the House oversight committee following the GOP wave of 2010.

Generally described as the richest member of Congress, Issa bankrolled the successful 2003 effort to recall California governor Gray Davis, leading to the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Issa became the second California Republican to retire this week.

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Issa had just managed to win in the 2016 general election with just half a percentage point.

Throughout my service, I worked hard and never lost sight of the people our government is supposed to serve.

"The reality is that America is better for the previous year of this administration and this Congress", Issa said.

Issa's announcement comes two days after another California Republican, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Edward Royce, announced his own retirement - leaving a nearby Orange County district amid a strong Democratic push for his ouster.

His bill which has already passed the House Judiciary Committee is now gaining momentum in the House and might come up for vote soon. In 2016, the district's voters preferred Clinton by 8 points over Republican Donald Trump. "Yet with the support of my family, I have decided that I will not seek re-election in California's 49th District", he said in a statement. "We are truly grateful for his service", said Rep. Steve Stivers, chairman of the NRCC.

Republicans, meanwhile, say they will benefit from the fight between the Democrats seeking to claim the seat.

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