Republican Congressman Announces Unexpected Retirement


Republicans in Congress continue to seem to be fleeing. As the 2020 elections only keep getting closer and the “blue wave” of votes for Democrats that knocked some 40 of them out of Congress in 2018 just keeps seeming to grow, another one has announced that they won’t be seeking re-election, bringing the total of retiring Republicans to 18 and counting. This time, it’s southern California’s Paul Cook, who’s currently serving his fourth term after first getting elected in 2012. The stated reason for his retirement from Congress is a plan to run for the local San Bernardino County board, the Los Angeles Times reports based off comments from Cook’s chief of staff John Sobel.

As it stands, California has just seven Republicans representing areas of the state in Congress in a total of 53 Congresspeople. In the blue wave of 2018, Democrats captured seven Republican-held seats in the state, many of which were in some historically very conservative areas, thereby bringing the GOP’s total from 14 down to the present point. Democrats also picked up seats everywhere from Kansas to Pennsylvania — and they’re hoping to do it again heading into 2020.

Besides Cook, other House Republicans to announce their impending retirement and thereby give up the GOP’s incumbency advantage include a full five and counting members of Congress from Texas, even including the GOP’s currently only black member of the House, Will Hurd — who’s often criticized Trump during his time in office. Hurd was even one of the few Republicans to vote in support of a recent resolution condemning Trump telling women of color in Congress to “go back where they came from” as racist.

The Cook Political Report rates three of the five Texas seats Republicans are abandoning as reasonably up for grabs. In the case of California’s Rep. Cook, the Congressional district whose representation he’s leaving is actually “known as a deeply conservative area,” the L.A. Times notes, adding that “Trump beat Hillary Clinton there by more than 15 percentage points, besting Mitt Romney’s 2012 margin in the district, and Cook won his last reelection fight against a fellow Republican with 60% of the vote.” In California, the primary elections are open, meaning voters choose their “top two” choices out of a pool of candidates from both major parties instead of just one or the other. Major parties can thereby get shut out of general elections altogether if the leading two are from the same party.

There’s already a Republican who might be after Cook’s district. The L.A. Times names local state Assemblyman Jay Obernolte, who’s previously shared that if Cook left office as he’s now confirmed he’s doing, Obernolte “intends to continue Congressman Cook’s advocacy” — which certainly could be a preparation for a campaign launch.

Besides these lower level races, the race to be the next president is of course also continuing. President Donald Trump continues to come up short with losing portions of the support when pitted against Democratic presidential primary candidates, a group that at this time includes former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.).

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