Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) will retire at the end of this term after six years in office, he announced in a letter to constituents Thursday.
Rigell had pledged when he came to office in 2010 that he would serve no more than six terms. He is leaving after three, he explained, because he had achieved what he set out to do in Congress.
“You might ask, "Why is now the time to leave?’” he wrote. “The answer is found in why I set aside all else and sought the office: to build a strong House majority that would check and balance the party that then controlled both political branches of the federal government. With your help we did just that.”
He pointed to the decline in discretionary spending since Republicans took over the House of Representatives — the same year he entered Congress.
Rigell represents Virginia’s 2nd District, which includes Virginia Beach and the Eastern Shore. Democrats have targeted this area in the past, but Rigell’s district becomes more Republican under a new congressional map imposed on the state by federal judges this month. The district is home to more active-duty and retired military personnel than any other, according to his office.
“Scott has been a tireless advocate for Hampton Roads, especially our men and women in uniform,” the Republican Party of Virginia said in a statement.
Rigell said that, consistent with the pledge he made when first running for Congress, he would accept no federal retirement benefits. Having served for more than five years, he would qualify for a congressional pension.
“I’ve known Scott for many years and I have always found him to be someone of honor and integrity,” Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) said in a statement. “I’ll miss him.”
Del. Scott W. Taylor (R-Virginia Beach), who came up short against Rigell in the 2010 primary, said he’s strongly considering running for the open seat.
“I’ll make a formal decision by tomorrow… but I’m strongly considering it,” he said in an interview Thursday in his legislative office. “If we decide to do it, I think we’re strongly positioned and I think we will win.”
A former Navy SEAL and frequent guest on Fox News, Taylor had been preparing a candidacy for lieutenant governor -- and recently set up a political action committee. But, he said, “something like this happens not very often that there’s an open seat like that.”
Taylor traveled to the Syrian border over the holidays and recently wrote a book, “Trust Betrayed: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the Selling Out of America’s National Security.”
“Scott Rigell has worked hard representing his constituents in the House of Representatives and we wish him and his family well in the next chapter of their lives,” National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Chris Pack said. “The NRCC fully expects to keep Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District in the Republican column.”
Rigell is the second Virginia congressman to announce his retirement this cycle; Rep. Robert Hurt (R) is also leaving office.
Jenna Portnoy contributed to this story.