Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) will not seek reelection, his campaign announced Thursday, setting the stage for a battle in 2020 over his increasingly competitive district.
“I have realized over this past year of change — both in politics and in my family — that the time has come for me to pass the baton and move to the next chapter, and so I have decided not to seek reelection in 2020,” Woodall said in a statement released by his campaign.
“I make this announcement as early as possible to ensure that quality conservative candidates have time to prepare for a vigorous campaign in 2020,” he added.
News of Woodall’s retirement was first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The newspaper also reported Woodall’s father died last year.
Woodall, a five-term Georgia Republican whose district includes the Atlanta suburbs, previously worked as a top aide to former congressman John Linder (R-Ga.). Woodall, 48, ran for the seat when Linder announced his retirement from Congress.
Woodall was first elected in 2010 and initially won his reelection campaigns by comfortable margins; in 2016, he won by more than 20 percentage points, while President Trump won the district by a little over six points.
As the district has grown more diverse, it has trended more Democratic. In 2018, Woodall beat his Democratic opponent, Carolyn Bourdeaux, by roughly 400 votes in one of the closest races in the country.
“I can’t express in words how thankful I am to each person who has been at my side through these years and remained my partner through both the successes and the adversity,” Woodall said in his statement. “Together, we have made a difference — a difference in the individual lives of families facing challenges here at home and a difference in the halls of Congress.”
Democrats responded to the news by claiming that Woodall was retiring to avoid a tough reelection battle.
“Rob Woodall is calling it quits because he sees the writing on the wall, and he sees the same Georgia that we do: One that is growing, more diverse, and more progressive,” Georgia Democratic Party chair Nikema Williams said in a statement.
“The 7th District is a microcosm of the new Georgia as a whole. Make no mistake: We are the hottest battleground state in 2020 up and down the ballot, and Republicans are running scared. They should be.”
Woodall is the second House Republican to announce his retirement since the start of the 116th Congress. Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) announced he was resigning last month to take a job in the private sector.
Cole Leiter, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said the retirements of Marino and Woodall are “merely the tip of the iceberg” for Republicans and that more will likely follow “as the reality of serving in the minority sets in.”