The Top House China hawk will retreat, opening up a spot in the Wisconsin battleground

Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., is seen outside the U.S. Capitol following the final votes of the week on Thursday, June 15, 2023.

TomWilliams | CQ-Appeal, Inc. | Getty Images

House Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wi., chairman of the CPC Select Committee, announced Saturday that he will not seek re-election this year, leaving an open seat in a key swing state early in the 2024 race in high gear.

The former Marine Corps officer joins the exodus of more than a dozen Republican members of Congress planning to leave their posts, each widening the path for Democrats in their bid to regain the House majority. His seat in Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District is particularly valuable, given the state’s battleground status and Republicans’ current slim majority in the House.

“Electoral politics was never supposed to be a career, and believe me, Congress is no place to grow old,” Gallagher said in a statement announcing his departure.

At times, Gallagher has split from his party. On Tuesday he was one of three Republicans to oppose the party’s leadership and vote against the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, sinking the motion.

He was also a vocal critic of former President Donald Trump’s involvement in the January 6, 2021 insurrection, although he opposed Trump’s impeachment that followed.

Despite occasional resistance to his party, Gallagher is still a core GOP vote representing a key swing state. Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 but lost it to President Joe Biden in 2020.

Gallagher’s retirement will likely spark a congressional frenzy on both sides of the aisle to fill his seat.

Wisconsin’s 8th District is a slightly redder region than the Badger State. In 2022, Gallagher won about 72% of the vote against several third-party candidates but no formal Democratic opponents.

This time, however, it could be different, with Democratic eyes already ready to replace him. Kristin Lyerly, a Wisconsin gynecologist, said she is considering a bid to overturn Gallagher’s seat.

Gallagher served four terms in Congress. His departure from Washington was unexpected given his status as a rising GOP star. Republicans had been eyeing Gallagher for a possible Senate run last year, but he declined.

He was also appointed to lead the high-profile House China Committee, created early last year.

The CPC Select Committee is a bipartisan group of lawmakers dedicated to overseeing and regulating U.S.-China relations. The committee made headlines in January, when FBI Director Christopher Wray announced that U.S. investigators had targeted and neutralized a China-backed hacking group called “Volt Typhoon.”

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