SIMI VALLEY, Calif. – U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly, who has represented California's Ventura County for 25 years, said Saturday he won't seek re-election and will retire at the end of the current Congress.
New maps approved last year by the state's independent redistricting commission had placed the 67-year-old Gallegly in the same district as Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, a fellow Republican who is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
Gallegly could have taken on McKeon or tried to win an adjacent district that is decidedly more Democratic and Latino.
Instead, he announced in a written statement that he and his wife are looking forward to spending more time with their family and friends.
"Working with our country's leadership on a daily basis in striving to move toward a better, stronger and more vibrant America for more than two decades has been a dream come true," Gallegly said. "The decision to step aside at this time did not come lightly."
A former real estate broker, Gallegly was elected to Simi Valley's City Council in 1979 and later became the city's mayor. He ran for Congress in 1986 and was re-elected 12 times. He now serves as the chairman the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement and as vice chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Gallegly said last year he didn't understand the logic behind some of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission's moves in determining which communities landed in which districts.
Voters approved the citizen-led commission to create California's legislative and congressional districts in response to decades of gerrymandering by lawmakers that preserved districts for incumbents and the parties.
"As bad as the process has been in the past, at least the politicians that were drawing the lines had to stand up and be accountable for them," Gallegly said in June. "At this point, the commissioners don't."
Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee, praised Gallegly's service on Capitol Hill.
"Elton has helped make America safer through his tireless work for national security, border security, and support for the military and veterans in his district and around the world," he said in a statement.