SoCal GOP Congressman Won’t Seek Re-Election in 2020

U.S. Rep. Paul Cook of California. (via Flickr)

LOS ANGELES (CN) – Adding to a growing number of Republican lawmakers who will not seek re-election in 2020, U.S. Rep. Paul Cook of California revealed Tuesday he will step down to campaign for a lower office.

Cook, 76, has represented a slice of Southern California that includes most of San Bernardino County and borders Nevada since 2013. Cook’s announcement adds to a pile of at least a dozen GOP incumbents who say they would not run for office again in the upcoming general election, including U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner who represented Wisconsinites since 1979 and U.S. Rep. Bill Flores of Texas.

A U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam and earned a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, Cook previously served on a local town council and then in the state Assembly.

He said he’s leaving Congress to run for a seat on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.

“Serving in Congress has been an absolute honor, and I’m proud of my numerous victories amid a tough partisan atmosphere. Our high desert needs continued strong leadership at the county level, and I pledge to fight for this area with the same dedication and conviction I’ve demonstrated my entire career.”

Although Cook has said the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is unconstitutional, he took a more moderate approach to immigration in 2017 after the Trump administration announced its travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries by calling on the government to issue green cards to immigrants who had already applied.

Meanwhile, the Orange County GOP is hedging its bets for the upcoming election and have asked incumbent state Assemblyman Bill Brough not to seek re-election amid allegations of sexual harassment and misappropriation of campaign finances.

At least three women have accused Brough, 52, of inappropriate touching, including Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett. Bartlett says Brough made a sexually aggressive advance toward her at a restaurant in 2011, when they were on the Dana Point City Council.

The accusations coincide with an investigation by the Fair Political Practices Commission into improper payments from campaign funds. Brough is accused of using nearly $200,000 in campaign money to pay for his family’s cellphone bill, a personal trip to a Boston Red Sox game, pricey meals and a custom-made liquor cabinet.

Brough’s district includes Orange County, which until 2018 was a Republican stronghold in California. The so-called “blue wave” flipped several red districts throughout the Golden state to Democrats in the midterm election.

In a campaign email blast, Brough denied the allegations and said he will seek re-election.

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