Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the second-longest serving member of the House, announced Wednesday he won’t seek reelection next year.
Sensenbrenner, who was first elected in the 1978 midterms, joins more than a dozen other House Republicans who have already announced their retirements. He was the third member from either party on Wednesday alone to say they wouldn’t run again in 2020, joining Reps. Bill Flores (R-Texas) and Susan Davis (D-Calif.).
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And while Sensenbrenner’s Milwaukee-area district leans heavily Republican — President Donald Trump won 57 percent of the vote there in the 2016 presidential election — it’s yet another sign that Republicans are pessimistic about their chances to win back the House majority next year.
Sensenbrenner won reelection in 2018 with 62 percent of the vote. In his congressional career, he never won less than 60 percent of the vote in a general election.
“When I began my public service in 1968, I said I would know when it was time to step back,” said Sensenbrenner, who was a member of the state Legislature before running for Congress. “After careful consideration, I have determined at the completion of this term, my 21st term in Congress, it will be that time.”
Sensenbrenner is best-known on Capitol Hill for his work on the Judiciary Committee. He was one of the House impeachment managers in the Senate trial of Bill Clinton. As chairman of the committee in the next decade, he helped pass the Patriot Act, George W. Bush’s effort to bulk up U.S. law enforcement’s surveillance capabilities to combat terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks.
He is the second Wisconsin Republican to say in recent weeks that he would leave Congress. GOP Rep. Sean Duffy announced he would resign from the House later this month because he and his wife are expecting a child with a heart condition and other health problems.
Sensenbrenner is one of only two members whose service in the House stretches back to the 1970s. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), the dean of the House, was first elected in 1973. According to Sensenbrenner’s office, at the completion of his term he will be the longest-serving member in his state’s history.
“I think I am leaving this district, our Republican Party, and most important, our country, in a better place than when I began my service,” Sensenbrenner said.