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Why is Rep. Dave Reichert leaving Congress? Trump is one possibility

Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., speaks with the media after testifying before the Senate Law and Justice Committee about Green River serial killer Gary Ridgway on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Olympia, Wash.
AP Photo/Rachel La Corte
Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash.

Rep. Dave Reichert said Wednesday that he won't seek re-election in a race that could decide whether Republicans still control Congress. 

In a news release from his Washington D.C. office, the seven-term Republican said he made the decision last month after consulting with his family.

"It was not an easy decision but I believe it was the right one for my family and me," Reichert said.

Political consultant and former chair of the Washington State Republican Party Chris Vance thinks other issues factored into the decision to retire.

"I doubt that Congressman Reichert's been having very much fun back in Washington, D.C. recently," Vance said.

That's because Reichert has big differences with President Donald Trump on issues like health care and immigration. He has opposed the Trump administration on the Dreamers immigration controversy. He also voted against the repeal of Obamacare — a longstanding Republican goal in the House — though he was criticized for voting the bill out of committee.

And while Trump is still very popular with the base of his party, Trump is not as popular with many in Reichert’s 8th Congressional District, where anti-Trump protests erupted this year.

“The problem for Republicans is one word: Trump,” Vance said. “The president's party normally loses seats in an off-year election, and this is no normal president." 

Reichert is also one of 23 Republicans who Democrats had said they were targeting nationally in districts where Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in 2016. "Democrats are gearing up to spend multi-millions of dollars in that district,” Vance said, “and it could just be that the congressman said: 'I don't want to put myself through that.'”

But Vance says others will run for the 8th on the Republican side, including — quite possibly — former gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi.

In an interview earlier this year with Enrique Cerna of KCTS9 public television, Reichert gave no indication that he was thinking about retiring. Watch the interview below:

And here's the full text of Reichert's statement on his retirement:

Washington, DC - Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA) today made the following statement announcing his plans to pursue new opportunities to serve the country and the American people.
"It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the people of the greatest state in the world’s greatest nation for nearly five decades. First as a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserves for six years, then in the King County Sheriff’s Office for 33 years, and most recently as a seven term Member of Congress. I am humbled to have been trusted by the people of Washington’s 8th District to be their voice in Congress; it is an honor I have not taken lightly. Each and every day, I have committed to serving the 8th District and our nation with the heart of a servant.
After spending time during the August work period with family and friends, reflecting on the past, discussing the future, and celebrating another birthday, I have decided this will be my last term and I will not run for reelection in November, 2018. It was not an easy decision but I believe it was the right one for my family and me. I have spent my entire career and devoted my life to service. I see this not just as a job, but as a calling - a calling I will not walk away from. Washington’s 8th Congressional District is home to the most talented people, a first-class business community, and a breathtaking natural landscape that is second to none. In my congressional career, I have always strived to improve the daily lives of my constituents and preserve the majestic beauty of our region. Whether it was through my work to expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, improve our foster care system and combat sex trafficking, or secure equipment and resources for our first responders, I have taken this honor and responsibility seriously.
Early on, the importance of trade to the region was clear. From serving on President Obama’s Export Council to battling to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank to leading the fight to pass the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement, I have always fought to give our exporters the chance to sell their goods and services around the world. Now, at this critical time, serving as the first Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade from Washington State, I remain steadfast in my commitment to Washington’s workers, manufacturers and growers – the best in the world. Representing over 700,000 constituents takes a team. My team, many of which have been with me since the beginning, have served our community with the heart of a servant, putting constituents before themselves. Day in and out they have helped constituents receive government funds owed to them, get answers when their questions were bogged down in government bureaucracy, and acquire necessary equipment and services for our veterans. I am immensely proud of the work my staff has done. This decision has been difficult to say the least but the love for my family ultimately guided me. I look forward to spending time with my wife, Julie, our three grown children and six grandchildren. They have made great sacrifices and I owe them not only my gratitude but more time together. As I finish my last term in the U.S. House of Representatives, I will continue to fight for hard working families, small business and all that makes our community great. I am deeply humbled by the support the people have shown since being elected in 1996 to Sheriff. Every election has been an amazing honor. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for this opportunity. God has blessed my family, my team and me as we have served. Thank you and God Bless America."

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