California GOP Rep. Jerry Lewis retiring

at 01:22 PM ET, 01/12/2012

California Republican Rep. Jerry Lewis will retire in 2012 rather than seek an 18th term.

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

“Jerry Lewis is a steadfast public servant whose commitment to job creation and opportunity for California families and businesses empowered his accomplished congressional service,” said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas).

Rep. Gary Miller (R), who finds himself drawn into a Republican district with Rep. Ed Royce, plans to move into Lewis’ district to run. Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar (D) also announced his intention to run in the new 31st district this morning.

Lewis, who has served in the House for 33 years, is the third California Republican to announce his retirement over the past week.

Earlier this week, Rep. Wally Herger announced that he plans to step down at the end of this term. Rep. Elton Gallegly announced his retirement plans this past Saturday.

Lewis, like Gallegly, was dealt a more difficult hand by the state’s bipartisan redistricting commission. His home was carved into the district of a Democratic incumbent, and even if he moved to more conservative territory, he would have faced a crowded primary.

Lewis served as chairman of the Appropriations Committee from 2005 to 2006. Over the years, he has come under criticism from some of his fellow Republicans for his prolific use of earmarks, steering tens of millions of dollars to his region..

But Lewis swore off earmarks in 2010 when campaigning to get the appropriations gavel back. He lost that race to Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) He was given “chairman emeritus" status as a consolation prize of sorts.

 
Read what others are saying