The 2018 midterms are increasingly important to the Republican Party. Mississippi Rep. Gregg Harper, the chairman of the House Administration Committee, just became the latest Republican to announce he won't be seeking reelection in 2018.
Harper announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of this year, reported The Hill. His retirement makes his seat the 29th Republican seat up for grabs in 2018. Harper is also the seventh House GOP panel chairman to decide to leave Congress since the start of last year.
He explained his reasons in a statement. The congressman, 61, said he and his family decided over the holidays that this year would be his last in Congress. He's served since 2009.
"The opportunity to serve the people of the 3rd District, our state, and our country is something that my wife, Sidney, and I will never forget. We have been contemplating for almost two years when it would be our time not to run again, and after spending time over Christmas and New Year’s with my family, we made the very difficult decision to say that 10 years will be long enough. I never intended for this to be a career, and it will soon be time for another conservative citizen legislator to represent us," Harper said.
Harper began serving as House Administration Committee chairman a year ago. That means he's not bound by term-limit rules, which The Hill says is unlike most of the other chairmen who also decided to retire.
"House GOP conference rules limit chairmen to serving three consecutive two-year terms, which contributed to Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) deciding to retire instead of seek reelection this year," explained The Hill.
Former Rep. Jason Chaffetz from Utah could have served as House Oversight Committee chairman through 2020. He chose to step down last year to take a position at Fox News. Rep. Diane Black from Tennessee plans to step down as the chairwoman of the House Budget Committee, which she began leading in 2017. This is not because she's retiring from politics but because she wants to focus on her campaign for governor.
Harper has played a key part in recent legislative efforts to deal with Capitol Hill's sexual harassment problems. His committee has held multiple hearings about harassment. The legislation is expected to pass this month.
Harper's Mississippi district is expected to remain under GOP control after the midterm elections. However, his retirement still creates another open seat currently held by a Republican during what will historically be a difficult election cycle.
Republicans stand to grapple with at least 29 open seats this year. That is due to 16 retirements, 10 lawmakers running for another office, and two resignations. In contrast, House Democrats are only facing 15 open seats at this point.
In other news, it's time to check your fridge for this kind of lettuce. 2 people are dead and another 58 sickened from E. Coli.