Top McCarthy ally becomes 21st House Republican to announce retirement

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'I'm entering a new season in life,' Graves wrote in a letter this week.

Georgia Rep. Tom Graves this week became the 21st Republican House member to announce they would not be running for reelection in 2020.

"As we all do, I'm entering a new season in life," Graves wrote in a letter on Thursday.

With his children now adults and his wife nearing retirement, Graves wrote he had "decided not to seek reelection in 2020," opting to spend more time with his family.

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Graves was first elected in 2010 after aligning himself with the tea party movement, winning a solidly Republican north Georgia congressional seat located outside Atlanta. Donald Trump carried the district by a 75-22 margin over Hillary Clinton in 2016, and Graves won reelection in 2018 by a 76-23 margin.

Graves, described as a close ally to Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, served as the the top Republican of the Financial Services subcommittee of the powerful Appropriations Committee.

A 2017 article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution described Graves as part of the "band of upstart young conservatives" who helped shut down the government in 2013 as a protest over the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA expanded access to health care to millions and included popular provisions such as protections for those with preexisting conditions who might otherwise be denied insurance.

Over the years, Graves went from outsider to a close friend of Republican leaders, AJC reported. Graves was booted from House leadership in 2011, but McCarthy allowed him to return to the whip team in 2013. Graves formally nominated McCarthy to be House Majority Leader in 2014.

Graves' close ties to the Republican establishment angered conservative activists who helped him win a House seat early on.

"I think he's just fallen in love with the marble inside the Capitol," Jason Pye, a Georgia Republican who worked for the far-right FreedomWorks, told AJC in 2017.

During the 2019 Trump-led government shutdown, Graves was a key member of a Republican group attempting to obtain congressional funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the outlet reported in January. The shutdown ended after Trump and Republicans finally gave up and allowed the government to reopen without securing any money for the wall.

Trump later announced a national emergency and took billions of dollars allocated to military families to build the wall. Graves supported Trump's efforts to prioritize building a wall over American troops.

Given both Graves' and Trump's margin of victory, the seat is likely to stay in Republican control following the 2020 election.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.