The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Rep. Shimkus won’t seek reelection, joins growing list of Republicans heading for the exit

Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.), left, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), center, and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) stop to be photographed next to a campaign sign for Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) during Republican Day at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, Ill., on Aug. 15, 2019. (Justin L. Fowler/AP)

Rep. John Shimkus on Friday joined the growing list of Republicans leaving Congress, announcing that he would not seek reelection in 2020.

The lawmaker from Illinois, who is in his 12th term, said on a local radio program that he would retire at the end of the 116th Congress.

“It has a been an honor of my lifetime to be asked by the people of Illinois to represent them in our nation’s capital,” Shimkus said on the Mark Reardon Show on KMOX-AM (1120). 

Shimkus is the 14th Republican to announce that he will not run next year, will resign or will seek a different office. Over the six-week congressional recess, a group of Republicans in increasingly competitive districts — including three Texans who won reelection by fewer than five percentage points in 2018 — decided to retire rather than face difficult contests.

Shimkus, however, won reelection by a landslide last year and hails from a GOP stronghold. His seat is expected to stay in Republican hands.

Shimkus was first elected in 1996, taking the former seat of Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), who moved from the House to the Senate. He attended the U.S. Military Academy, served in the U.S. Army and worked as a high school teacher before running for Congress.

Shimkus, 61, served on the Energy and Commerce Committee for much of his congressional career, launching two unsuccessful bids to become the panel’s chairman in 2016.

While he has had a reputation as an ardent conservative, he was perhaps known most among his colleagues for his almost legendary Capitol Hill house. His place became the Washington home for three additional top GOP lawmakers turned best friends: House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (La.), Rep. Kevin Brady (Tex.), the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, and then-Rep. Erik Paulsen (Minn.), who were often seen together joking and pulling pranks.

It is unclear where the remaining roommates will go with their landlord and friend departing.