Seventh GOP chairman quits Congress as Democrats poised to take back the House


California Rep. Ed Royce joins the growing ranks of Republican lawmakers unwilling to run for office again.

The GOP is poised for a crushing defeat in November amid public outrage and rock-bottom polls.

But even before a single vote is cast in the 2018 midterm elections, House Republicans are already hemorrhaging powerful members of their caucus as retirement announcements keep coming.

Monday afternoon, California Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, joined that list.

"In this final year of my Foreign Affairs Committee chairmanship, I want to focus fully on the urgent threats facing our nation," Royce wrote in his announcement, referencing North Korea, Iran, and Russia. "With this in mind ... I have decided not to seek reelection in November."

Royce marks the seventh GOP House committee chair to retire or resign this cycle, after Jason Chaffetz, Jeb Hensarling, Lamar Smith, Bob Goodlatte, Bill Shuster, and Gregg Harper.

The decision to leave was a timely one, as polls found Royce — who faces outrage in his Orange County district after boastfully voting for the GOP tax scam — is losing to a generic Democrat.

California Republicans are in a unique kind of trouble. Thanks to a quirk of the state’s nonpartisan primary system, Republicans are unlikely to qualify a candidate for Senate or governor at all, and thus both races could be between two Democrats.

If that happens, many Republican voters could simply not turn up. This would have a substantial impact in Orange County — which had voted Republican in every presidential election since 1936 but flipped for Clinton in 2016 — and where, in Royce’s district, Republicans will no longer have an incumbency advantage.

Should Democrats successfully retake the House in the fall, even districts with powerful committee chairs are no longer safe. Republicans like Royce see the writing on the wall — and they want out.