Greg Walden, top Republican on powerful House committee, will retire from Congress

GOP Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon announced Monday he is retiring from Congress at the end of his term and will not seek re-election -- the latest departure of an influential House Republican ahead of the 2020 elections.

Walden, 62, serves as the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and was first elected to Congress in 1998. He said he is retiring despite confidence he could garner support to serve a 12th term.

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“Based on recent polling, strong fundraising, and the backing of my wife and family, I am confident I could earn the support of 2nd District voters for another term," Walden said in a statement Monday. "I’m also optimistic that a path exists for Republicans to recapture a majority in the House, and that I could return for two more years as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.”

Representative Greg Walden, a Republican from Oregon, walks to a House Republican conference meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Getty).

Representative Greg Walden, a Republican from Oregon, walks to a House Republican conference meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Getty).

“But I also know that for me, the time has come to pursue new challenges and opportunities,” he continued. “So, I will not seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives, nor election to any other office, but instead I will close the public service chapter of my life, thankful for the friends I’ve made and the successful work we’ve done together.”

During his time in Congress, Walden also served as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

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Walden is the 19th House Republican to announce he or she will not seek re-election this election cycle. Three other GOP lawmakers have already resigned.

But current NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer said Walden “assured” him that he would “remain heavily engaged in ensuring this seat remains in Republican hands.”

“I consider it an honor to follow in Greg’s footsteps as NRCC Chairman and will continue leaning on him for his support and guidance as we fight to take back the Majority in 2020,” Emmer said in a statement Monday. “This is a solidly Republican district and it will remain so in 2020.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.