House Foreign Affairs chair Royce retiring from Congress this

Conservative Super PAC Tries to Rescue Orange County Republicans AP

Several other Republican committee chairs have said they are exiting after their chairmanships expire at the end of this year due to term limits, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Transportation chief Bill Shuster.

In a statement, Royce called it "truly an honor" to represent his Orange County district, and said that in his final year leading the foreign affairs panel, he wants to "focus fully on the urgent threats facing our nation, including: the brutal, corrupt and unsafe regimes in Pyongyang and Tehran, Vladimir Putin's continued efforts to weaponize information to fracture western democracies, and growing terrorist threats in Africa and Central Asia".

But it's also clear the congressman was facing one of the most challenging elections of his career.

Democrats have launched a grassroots effort to try to regain control of Congress, and Royce's seat was a prime target. Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton carried his district ― an increasingly diverse enclave of residents ― by 9 percentage points in the 2016 election.

Royce had appeared to be gearing up for another campaign: He had $3.4 million stockpiled in his campaign account as of September, the most recent numbers available.

A Republican operative said the party has several potential recruits to replace Royce, several of whom are Asian American - a key demographic in the region.

Trump lost the state in 2016 by more than 4 million votes and Clinton carried Orange County, once a Republican fortress, by almost 9 percentage points.

Royce, who has served in the House for almost 26 years, was expected to face a tough re-election battle if he had chosen to run again.

The disparity is among the factors boosting the hopes of Democrats that they can capture control of the chamber in November's vote.

Royce touted his accomplishments in a statement.

Republican Rep. Steve Stivers, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said the GOP was "fired up and ready to hold this seat".

Randall RoyceState Dept insists cyber a priority despite office closure It's time to use surgical strikes, naval blockades and more on North Korea Giffords targets 8 Republicans on hide and carry in new ads MORE (R-Calif.) announced Monday he will retire at the end of this year. The president's party usually experiences losses in the mid-term election.

"In a district that Hillary Clinton won by 8 points, Democrats are poised to win this Orange County seat and send someone to Washington who truly represents the values of Southern California", said Drew Godinich, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.



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