Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., announced Wednesday that he will retire from politics and not seek re-election in the fall.
The powerful conservative lawmaker said he would be “returning to the justice system” after he leaves Congress. Gowdy is the chair of the House Oversight Committee; he resigned from the House Ethics Committee earlier this year.
“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,” Gowdy, 53, said in a statement. “As I look back on my career, it is the jobs that both seek and reward fairness that are most rewarding.”
Multiple Republican lawmakers have already announced that they will not return to Washington after 2018. In general, fall retirement announcements are nothing new. On average, 22 House members retire each cycle, Roll Call reported.
Here’s the list of Republicans, in the House and Senate, who have announced they will not seek re-election:
Embattled Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, announced on Nov. 30, 2017, that he was retiring from Congress.
Barton’s announcement came after pressure for him to end his re-election bid mounted. Barton, 68, apologized after a nude photo of him surfaced on social media. He said he engaged in consensual sexual relationships while he was estranged from his second wife.
“I’ve always listened to people in Texas and worked for them in Washington, and I’ve been listening to a lot of people the last week in Texas,” Barton told the Dallas Morning News. “There are enough people who lost faith in me that it’s time to step aside and let there be a new voice for the 6th district in Washington, so I am not going to run for re-election.”
Jason Chaffetz of Utah announced in May that he would resign from Congress at the end of June 2017.
“My life has undergone some big changes over the last 18 months. Those changes have been good. But as I celebrated my 50th birthday in March, the reality of spending more than 1,500 nights away from my family over eight years hit me harder than it had before,” Chaffetz said at the time.
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., announced on Sept. 27, 2017, that he will not seek a third term in 2018.
Corker, 65, had previously said that he “couldn’t imagine” serving more than two terms. Corker has often feuded with President Trump.
Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent said on Sept. 7, 2017, that he would not seek re-election. The seven-term congressman told Fox News that he made the decision both for personal reasons and because “the polarization around here is pretty severe.”
Dent, 57, has been openly critical of Trump. He voted against party lines and a repeal of ObamaCare last year.
Rep. Jimmy Duncan Jr., R-Tenn., announced in July 2017 that he would not seek re-election.
In announcing his retirement, Duncan, 70, thanked conservatives who supported him against “recent attacks against me from the far left.”
“I have decided I wanted to spend less time in airports, airplanes and traveling around the district and more time with my family, especially my nine grandchildren, who all live in Knoxville,” Duncan said. “I love my job, but I love my family more.”
Roll Call reported that Duncan’s sister, state Sen. Becky Duncan Massey, could launch a bid for his empty seat.
After multiple accusations of sexual harassment, misconduct and inappropriate behavior surfaced, Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, said he won’t run for re-election.
The House Ethics Committee said earlier in December 2017 that it was expanding a probe into sexual harassment allegations against the lawmaker, which would include an investigation into whether he retaliated against a former staff member for complaining of such behavior. Congressional sources said Farenthold paid an $84,000 settlement using taxpayer money.
In a video posted to his campaign Facebook page, Farenthold said he “allowed a workplace culture to take root in my office that was too permissive and decidedly unprofessional.” However, he continued to deny the sexual harassment claims against him.
“It accommodated destructive gossip, off-hand comments, off-color jokes and behavior that in general was less than professional,” Farenthold, 56, said. “And I allowed the personal stress of the job to manifest itself in angry outbursts and – too often – a failure to treat people with respect that they deserved. That was wrong.”
“An unprofessional work environment is not a crime, but it’s embarrassing to me and to my family. It reflects poorly on the institution of Congress, on my colleagues and on my constituents, and they deserve better,” he said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters Farenthold was “making the right decision to retire,” citing the “unacceptable behavior that has been alleged.”
But Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Crystal K. Perkins slammed Farenthold’s decision not to run for re-election as “simply not enough,” calling it a “PR stunt.”
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., announced on Oct. 24, 2017, that he would not seek re-election. Flake is an ardent critic of Trump.
Flake, 55, faced a tough re-election campaign in Arizona against Kelli Ward, a physician who has also challenged Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Trump has previously said that it was “great” that Ward was running against a “toxic” Flake.
In announcing that he wouldn’t run for re-election, Flake said the GOP is becoming a “backward-looking minority party.”
“It is clear in this moment that a traditional conservative, who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free-trade, who is pro-immigration, has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the Republican Party, the party that has for so long defined itself by its belief in those things,” Flake said.
Arizona Rep. Trent Franks announced on Dec. 8, 2017, that his resignation would take effect immediately, despite previously announcing that he’d leave the House in January due to sexual misconduct allegations against him.
He attributed the change in date to his wife’s admittance to the hospital but reports later surfaced alleging Frank repeatedly pressed a former aide to carry his child, offering her $5 million to act as a surrogate.
Franks’ announcement came as the House Ethics Committee said it was looking into whether he “engaged in conduct that constitutes sexual harassment and/or retaliation for opposing sexual harassment.”
Franks, 60, maintained that he never physically intimidated, coerced or had sexual contact with any member of his staff. He said he discussed surrogacy issues with some of his female staff which made them “uncomfortable.”
The conservative congressman said that “in the midst of this current cultural and media climate, I am deeply convinced I would be unable to complete a fair House Ethics investigation before distorted and sensationalized versions of this story would put me, my family, my staff and noble colleagues in the House of Representatives through hyperbolized public excoriation.”
The Washington Post reported that Franks had asked two female employees to be a surrogate for him and his wife.
Franks initially said he would leave Congress on Jan. 31, 2018 before departing in December.
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen announced Monday that he will retire at the end of his term.
The New Jersey Republican, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, was facing his first competitive re-election race in decades.
Frelinghuysen, 71, was first elected in the 1994 GOP wave that put Republicans in control of both chambers. He hails from a New Jersey political dynasty that dates to the late 1700s. His father, Peter, served in the House for two decades.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte announced on Nov. 9, 2017, that he would not seek re-election, saying it is “the right time to step aside.”
The Virginia lawmaker, who has been in Congress since 1993, said he has discussed whether to run for re-election with his wife, Maryellen, every two years. This year’s conversation, Goodlatte said, was different.
“With my time as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee ending in December 2018, this is a natural stepping-off point and an opportunity to begin a new chapter of my career and spend more time with my family, particularly my granddaughters,” Goodlatte, 65, said in a letter.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy announced on Jan. 31 that he would not seek re-election or any other political office.
The South Carolina Republican, who until recently also sat on the House Ethics Committee, said he would 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,” the 53-year-old said. “As I look back on my career, it is the jobs that both seek and reward fairness that are most rewarding.”
Gowdy also oversaw the divisive House investigation into the 2012 Benghazi attack.
Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., announced in January 2018 that he would not seek re-election at the end of his term. The House Administration Committee chairman said he tried to make Congress more transparent and accountable during his tenure.
Harper, 61, was first elected in 2008. He said “10 years will be long enough” for him to have served in Congress.
Harper was an ardent supporter of anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training in the U.S. House. His committee held a hearing in November 2017 regarding sexual misconduct involving current House members.
After the hearing, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that the House would begin to require anti-harassment and anti-discrimination trainings for members and their staff.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is the longest serving Senate Republican. He announced on Jan. 2, 2018 – after weeks of speculation – that he would not seek re-election at the end of his term.
The 83-year-old said Trump told him during a recent visit to Utah that he was a “fighter.”
“But every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves. And for me, that time is soon approaching,” Hatch said in a video message posted on social media.
“I’ve authored more bills that have become law than any member of Congress alive today,” Hatch also said, adding that one of his “proudest legislative achievements” was his work with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which ensures religious freedoms are protected.
Hatch’s decision not to run for re-election is largely seen as a path for Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, to run for the open seat.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, announced on Oct. 31, 2017, that he will not run for re-election in 2018.
“Today I am announcing that I will not seek re-election to the US Congress in 2018. Although service in Congress remains the greatest privilege of my life, I never intended to make it a lifetime commitment, and I have already stayed far longer than I had originally planned,” Hensarling, 60, said, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Hensarling also added that he wants to spend more time with his family.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., will retire at the end of his term, he announced on Jan. 10, 2018.
Issa, 64, only barely won re-election in 2016. He beat his Democratic challenger, Douglas Applegate, by less than one percentage point for California’s 49th congressional district.
This seat was seen as a toss-up that could potentially go to a Democrat in 2018, even prior to Issa’s impending retirement.
“Representing you has been the privilege of a lifetime,” Issa, who has been in Congress since 2001, said in a statement.
But Issa could come eventually return to Congress. He is reportedly considering running for Rep. Duncan Hunter’s seat, should he end up resigning his own seat. Hunter, however, has said that he is “100% running for reelection.”
Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., announced on Jan. 25, 2017, that she would not seek re-election or run for another office.
Jenkins, 54, said she wanted to return to the private sector although she was highly rumored to be a possible gubernatorial candidate in Kansas.
Longtime Texas Rep. Sam Johnson announced his retirement on Jan. 6, 2017.
“For me, the Lord has made clear that the season of my life in Congress is coming to an end,” Johnson, 87, said.
Johnson is an Air Force veteran who was a prisoner of war at the infamous Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam.
Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, announced in the summer of 2017 that he would finish out his current term but then run for governor of Idaho in 2018 instead of re-election, according to HuffPost.
Labrador, 50, is a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus.
Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., will retire from Congress at the end of his term. The 71-year-old assumed his seat in 1995.
LoBiondo’s retirement opens up a seat in a potential swing district. Trump won in it 2016, but former President Barack Obama took the district in 2012.
The GOP lawmaker has differed from his party on certain issues. He voted against the budget framework and has expressed concerns about Republicans’ tax plan, specifically the move to eliminate certain state and local deductions.
In a letter to his campaign chairman on Jan. 25, 2018, Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., reportedly said he would not be seeking re-election.
“After consultation with my wife Carolyn and with my three sons, and after prayerful reflection, I write to inform you that I will not seek re-election to the United States Congress for the 7th Congressional District in 2018,” Meehan wrote, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The decision, the 62-year-old reportedly said, was made following reports that he allegedly used taxpayer money to fund a settlement to a former aide who claimed he sexually harassed her. Meehan called the revelations “a major distraction” and said he needed “to own it because it is my own conduct that fueled the matter.”
On Jan. 23, 2018, Meehan acknowledged telling a longtime former aide that he considered her a “soul mate” and admitted acting “selfishly” after learning that she was dating someone else. The former aide filed a sexual misconduct complaint against the lawmaker last summer and he allegedly used taxpayer money in the settlement.
GOP Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania announced on Oct. 5, 2017, that he would resign his position in Congress. The news followed reports that the lawmaker, who has publicly been staunchly anti-abortion, had an affair and asked his mistress to get an abortion when they believed she was pregnant.
Murphy, 65, said he will “take personal time to seek help as my family and I continue to work through our personal difficulties.”
Instead of seeking re-election in 2018, Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., announced in November 2016 that she will run for governor instead.
In her announcement, Noem, 46, officially kicked off her gubernatorial bid this year.
New Mexico Rep. Steve Pearce opted to run for governor of his state instead of re-election.
Pearce, 70, has been a congressman for more than 12 years. He told the Albuquerque Journal that as governor he would focus on the exodus of young people leaving the state.
In a Twitter message, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, announced that he will not seek re-election.
“I am grateful for the honor and privilege to represent the best people in America, Texas’s Second Congressional District. Thanks to the good Lord, I’m in good health, but it’s time for the next step,” Poe, 69, said on Nov. 7, 2017.
He added that he’s planning to spend more time with his grandchildren. All 12 of them were born since he’s been in Congress, Poe said. He assumed office in 2005.
After serving seven terms in Congress, Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., said he would not seek re-election on Sept. 6, 2017. A former sheriff, Reichert, 67, represents a district that is being targeted by Democrats in 2018. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won the area in the 2016 election.
Reichert said the decision to retire from Congress was “the right one for my family and me.”
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., announced on April 30, 2017, that she would not seek re-election. Ros-Lehtinen, 65, has been a congresswoman since 1989.
“The most difficult challenge is not to simply keep winning elections; but rather the more difficult challenge is to not let the ability to win define my seasons,” she said.
Born in Havana, Cuba, Ros-Lehtinen is considered a moderate Republican who was not a strong supporter of Trump.
On Jan. 8, 2018, Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., announced that he would not seek re-election.
Royce, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that he wanted to completely focus his final year as committee chairman on the “urgent threats facing our nation.”
Royce, 66, is serving out his 13th term.
In an announcement detailing his decision to not seek re-election, Royce cited the tax cut bill passed in December and the crackdown on the global ivory trade as some of his accomplishments.
Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Rep. Bill Shuster, 57, told the Washington Examiner that even though he doesn’t plan to seek re-election, he still hopes to work with Trump on passing a large infrastructure bill before he leaves Congress.
The Pennsylvania Republican announced on Jan. 2, 2017 that he would not seek re-election in November. He told the publication that as he would not be coming back to Washington as a congressman, he could better work with parties on both sides of the aisle during his remaining time in office.
Rep. Lamar Smith, a 70-year-old Republican serving Texas, announced Nov. 2, 2017 that he would be retiring from Congress at the end of his term.
Smith, who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has served in the House of Representatives since 1987.
Luther Strange, R-Texas, was appointed to Jeff Sessions’ old Senate after he was picked to be the attorney general.
But Strange, 64, lost in the special primary election earlier in 2017 to Roy Moore. Moore, who became the GOP nominee for the Senate, eventually lost to Democrat Doug Jones.
In his farewell speech to the Senate in December, Strange encouraged his fellow lawmakers to remain committed to bipartisanship.
“To lose the art of balance and compromise in this body is to lose something essentially American,” he said.
Ohio Rep. Pat Tiberi, 55, announced on Oct. 19, 2017, that he would resign from Congress in early 2018 to lead the Ohio Business Roundtable as the association’s president.
Serving as a Republican Congressman for 17 years, Tiberi’s final day in Congress is Jan. 15, 2018.
Rep. Dave Trott, R-Mich., announced on Sept. 11, 2017 that he would not seek re-election.
Trott, 57, will retire at the end of his second term. His district is Republican-leaning, but analysts told the Detroit News that a Democrat could flip the seat.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.