A half dozen Democrats have already opened campaign committees to run in Royce's district.
Although Issa was one of just 13 Republicans to vote against the GOP tax plan last month (blue-state Republicans loudly objected to the capping of the state and local tax deduction), he joined all 14 California House Republicans in voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, despite intense public protest.
Royce's district backed Clinton by 8 percentage points.
The announcement comes on the same day that Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, endorsed a former staffer to succeed him.
"California Republicans clearly see the writing on the wall and realize that their party and its priorities are toxic to their re-election chances in 2018", said Drew Godinich, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.More news: Harman Debuts Digital Cockpit Concept at CES
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The Democratic wave is coming, and Republicans don't look very confident that they'll be able to stop it. But Issa faced his stiffest competition a year ago, narrowly defeating challenger Doug Applegate, a Democrat based out of San Clemente.
Shawn Steel believes Royce would have had no problem getting re- elected given that he was re-elected 57-42 in 2016 when Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won Orange County for her party for the first time since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The district touches the most southern cities in the county, including San Juan Capistrano, Dana Point and San Clemente. The newspaper reported that Royce's retirement was nonetheless a surprise, as he was known to be interested in chairing the House Financial Services Committee.
According to NPR, there are now 31 Republican lawmakers who will not seek re-election in November. Voter registration data shows an uptick in Democrats since 2012's 28.57 percent, while Republicans dropped from 40 percent. Like most of the others, he would have lost his gavel in the next Congress in accordance with party rules that place a three-term limit on a chairman's service.
In a statement Wednesday, Issa did not give a reason for his departure but reflected on a two-decade political career that included jump-starting the process that led to the 2003 recall of then-California Gov.
As of the most recent reports, Issa had the most money, $852,000 remaining out of the $1.2 million he has raised.
Democratic candidates for legislature held a news conference Thursday afternoon saying they were going to fight for working families and a responsible balanced budget based on equitable taxation that would allow the state to adequately invest in education and infrastructure and provide services for the needy. In the top-two primary, Congressman Gary Miller, running for re-election as the incumbent in the newly drawn 31 Congressional District, faced one strong GOP opponent, State Senator Bob Dutton, and four Democrats. In particular, Issa's decision may signal that Republicans are conceding that seat.