SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) – U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, a seven-term Republican from Orange County, California, said Monday he would not seek re-election in 2018 – leaving his seat wide open for takeover by Democrats.
Also chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, from which he is automatically termed out at the end of this year, the 66-year-old Royce did not offer a reason for his retirement. But his decision bodes well for Democrats looking to flip the seat, which the Cook Political Report on Monday said now “leans Democratic.”
Royce handily won re-election in 2016, but Orange County as a whole has been shifting toward Democrats in recent years. Voters in his district chose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump for president by more than 8 percentage points.
While Royce supported the recent tax overhaul bandied by Trump and signed into law before Christmas, polls show 51 percent of Californians oppose the legislation and only 30 percent support it. The tax bill is just one of several reasons Royce’s seat is one of 10 Republican-held seats Democrats hope to flip in the 2018 midterm elections.
Royce said he will spend the remainder of his term getting to the bottom of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, as well as ongoing threats from North Korea and Iran.