Representative Ed Royce (R-Brea) has announced his retirement—with a not-so-veiled shot at Vladimir Putin.
That’s stunning when you consider the only Orange County Member of Congress to serve in the House longer—Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach)—is considered Putin’s favorite congressman, so much so that it has dragged Rohrabacher into special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“In this final year of my Foreign Affairs Committee chairmanship,” writes Royce, who was first elected to Congress in 1993, in a statement, “I want to focus fully on the urgent threats facing our nation, including: the brutal, corrupt and dangerous regimes in Pyongyang and Tehran, Vladimir Putin’s continued efforts to weaponize information to fracture western democracies, and growing terrorist threats in Africa and Central Asia. With his in mind, and with the support of my wife Marie, I have decided not to seek reelection in November.”
(His full statement ends this post.)
Rohrabacher, who joined Congress in 1989, claims to have received information from exiled Wikileaks founder Julian Assange that exonerates Putin and Russia from having meddled in U.S. elections. But Rohrabacher’s coziness with Putin/Russia prompted Royce to reign in his fellow Orange County lawmaker’s chairmanship of the Europe subcommittee.
With Royce’s announced retirement, the Cook Report has changed the 39th congressional district race in November from “leans Republican” to “leans Democratic.”
Sam Jammal, a Democrat seeking that seat, reacted via Facebook: “Ed Royce has retired! Our grassroots movement forced him out. Now, it’s time to finish the job and flip this seat.”
Andy Thornburn, another Democrat is the race, used Twitter to react to Royce’s departure from the race.
Another Democratic candidate, Dr. Mai Khanh Tran, tweeted: “Our movement toward #FLIPCA39 is quickly becoming a reality!!! What a great moment of hope. #BlueWave2018 #CA39”
Deep-pocketed candidate Gil Cisneros tweeted a gif of President Obama bobbing from side to side with a big smile and the message, “That feeling when you expose Ed Royce and all the times he turned his back on #CA39 and he decides to exit the race. #wedidthat #winning”
“It’s working. Our voices are being heard!” tweeted another Democratic candidate for the 39th, Phil Janowicz.
Ted Rusk, a candidate who bills himself as the “Future Speaker of the House” and claims his Orange County Democratic Party won’t let him praise Trump, offered via Twitter of Royce: “He is dropping out? ano ba yan?” (Translation, please!)
Royce’s retirement is obviously getting notice outside the district. The New York Times‘ Nate Cohn tweeted, “Ed Royce is a really big retirement for the Democrats.”
Peter Ambler, executive director of Giffords, the gun safety organization launched by former Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband Captain Mark Kelly, also sees Royce’s retirement as big news.
“For years, Rep. Ed Royce made a conscious decision to defy his constituents and put the profits of the corporate gun lobby before the safety of California’s families,” Ambler says in a statement. “Just weeks ago, in the wake of two of the nation’s worst mass shootings, he voted in favor of a bill that would allow stalkers and domestic abusers to carry concealed weapons in California. With his resignation, Royce is admitting what we all knew already—voters in his district overwhelmingly reject the gun lobby’s agenda, which he blindly followed.
Weeks before Royce’s retirement, Giffords endorsed a Democrat in the race. “Californians deserve leaders who know how to protect our rights and the security of our communities, which is why we’re committed to supporting candidates like Gil Cisneros, a U.S. Navy veteran and outspoken advocate for gun safety running to represent California’s 39th congressional district,” Ambler says.
California progressive politics’ sugar daddy Tom Steyer also chimed in by tweeting: “Ed Royce isn’t the first Republican lawmaker to take an honest look at the 2018 political landscape and bow out rather than go down with the ship—and he will not be the last. Trump enablers, we are coming for you.” Steyer is backing with words and funding a campaign to impeach Trump.
Meanwhile, columnist Grant Stern wonders if Royce is running away from corruption charges lodged against him and Rohrabacher by Massachusetts attorney J. Whitfield Larrabee.
Royce mentions none of that in his full statement:
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.