Senior House Republican to retire
January 12th, 2012
03:40 PM ET
2 years ago

Senior House Republican to retire

Washington (CNN) – Veteran California House Republican Jerry Lewis announced Thursday he will not run for re-election, making him the third GOP House member from the Golden state to announce within a week their plans to retire.

"After months of consultation with loved ones and family, my wife Arlene and I have decided to retire from public life. We are deeply grateful to so many who have provided their support over the years. I have worked hard to justify that support," Lewis said in a written statement.

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Lewis, who is serving his 17th term in the House, rose to prominence as a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, and chaired the panel in 2005. When Democrats regained control of the House, he remained the top Republican on the committee. But Lewis' ability to steer millions of dollars in earmarks to businesses and local governments in his district attracted attention from federal investigators. No charges were ever filed, but law enforcement authorities did look into his ties to lobbyists, including former California Rep Bill Lowery, who represented various clients who received millions for federally funded projects.

After the GOP took over the majority in 2010, it banned earmarks. Because of internal party rules limiting tenure on top committee spots, Lewis would have needed a waiver to chair the spending panel again. Lewis remained on the committee as a senior member, but opted against a bid to lead it, perhaps recognizing the tea party fueled anti-spending freshman class elected that year might be skeptical of his reputation for doling out federal money.

In addition to Lewis, California Republicans Elton Gallegly and Wally Herger also said they won't run next November. So far a total of five House Republicans and nine House Democrats are not running for re-election in 2012.

One Democratic aide said that when House Democratic retirements began to mount at the end of last year, Republicans seized on the news as a sign Democrats would have trouble in efforts to regain control of the chamber. "Now that their numbers are quickly ticking up, that argument is starting to fade," the aide told CNN.

But a GOP aide maintained the recent spate of retirements in California has to do with the fact that the state's Republican delegation includes a number of long serving members who were elected to the House in the late 1970s and 1980s.

After California redrew its map of congressional districts Lewis' district was split and he was deciding between two newly formed House districts. Democrats point out that on the same day Lewis said he was retiring, Peter Aguilar, the Democratic Mayor of Redlands, California, jumped into the race in one of those districts.

Daniel Scarpinato, a spokesman for the House Republican campaign committee argued redistricting will hurt several Democratic incumbents in the state, noting that the Democratic campaign committee has already pledged national financial resources for these races.

"As November approaches, Democrats are watching long-held California seats slip away from them like sands through an hourglass. They recently added two additional members from the state to their most vulnerable list and are desperately and unsuccessfully trying to distance themselves from the disastrous policies coming out of the White House," Scarpinato said.

Follow Deirdre Walsh on Twitter: @deirdrewalshcnn

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Filed under: Congress
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Namejkane

    Good riddens, time to clean house and get rid of the teabags and crooks and bums. We should cut their pensions before any other cuts to anything!!!!!

    January 12, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  2. patNY

    the rats fleeing the ship....please take fellow CA rep.Issa with you.

    January 12, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  3. Thomas

    You make more money being a lobbyist !

    There ought to be a law !

    January 12, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  4. ngc1300

    I loved him in the "Nutty Professor".

    January 12, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  5. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Good... 17 terms is quite enough, actually far too much. Time for some new Republican blood in this seat. Big spenders like this guy need not apply. That applies to Democrats as well.

    Ask NOT what you can spend for me, ask what spending you can CUT for the countries survival!

    January 12, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  6. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    The king of republican earmarks will be missed by his district.

    January 12, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  7. Natalie

    Repubs are not wanted (or needed) in CA; they've gridlocked any progress, just like in the US Senate.

    January 12, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  8. Jilli

    Finally. It's about time this crook hits the road.

    January 12, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  9. Natalie

    Repubs are not wanted (or needed) in CA; they've gridlocked any progress, just like in the US Congress.

    January 12, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  10. insight iowa

    Isn't this man the largest earmarks man in the history of our Congress. Didn't I read $100 million alone?

    January 12, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  11. GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE

    Democrats will retake the House!

    January 12, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  12. Natalie

    Disregard my first post; meant to say US Congress, not Senate.

    January 12, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  13. Independent Voters

    Please Boehner, Cantor, McConnell please retire with the rest of republicans.

    January 12, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  14. realitybites

    He's smart enough to remain in office and smart enough to read the Giant Red Writing on the wall. I wonder if he is leaving b/c he told Grover Norquit so F off.

    January 12, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  15. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Natalie - Repubs are not wanted (or needed) in CA; they've gridlocked any progress, just like in the US Senate.
    ================================================================================

    You have almost none! California is going bankrupt under Democrat control!! I guess that is the Democrat's definition of "progress"!!!!

    January 12, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC

    This guy is financially set for two or three lifetimes.

    January 12, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  17. AFSOC 1st Sgt

    Actually,I'd like to see the Cal. state legislature go entirely, 100% Dem. With those "obstructionist" Republicans out of the way, California could become the utopian, workers paradise liberals dream about. Only problem is....where will they get any revenue?

    January 12, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  18. Namejkane

    Time to clean the house and senate of teapublican trash!!!!

    January 12, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  19. hope for all

    hey truth
    Out here in California we got this way under the hands of the GOP Governor. The Dem Governor is trying to clean up the mess that the GOP caused. Read up on your history lessons.

    January 12, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  20. MTATL67

    The more Republicans that retire the easier it will be to elect non-extremists and anti-obstructionis to Congress. Then maybe the country's business will get done.

    January 12, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  21. unsub

    take Issa with you!

    January 12, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  22. The Real Tom Paine

    Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Natalie – Repubs are not wanted (or needed) in CA; they've gridlocked any progress, just like in the US Senate.
    ================================================================================

    You have almost none! California is going bankrupt under Democrat control!! I guess that is the Democrat's definition of "progress"!!!!
    ***********************

    Didn't your boys want the country to default last summer?

    January 12, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  23. stars

    yes please take that crook Issa with you the bum has destoryed our state.

    January 12, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  24. diridi

    take other bunch of idiots with you...good luck, white head hair...

    January 12, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  25. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    he have made enough money 17 term ,time to give it up

    January 12, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |