WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. John Katko, a respected Republican moderate whose congressional career seemed to be on the rise, announced his retirement Friday, the third of the 10 House GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach President Donald Trump last January to say they won’t seek reelection.
The New Yorker, 59, was in line to become chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee if, as seems likely, Republicans win control of the chamber in November’s elections. Lawmakers seldom step aside with such opportunities looming.
But his decision comes as Trump has remained a dominant force in the GOP, retaining the fealty of many lawmakers and threatening to use party primaries to depose those who cross him.
Now serving his fourth House term, Katko released a statement saying it was time to “enjoy my family and life in a fuller and more present way.”
While his statement made no reference to Trump, he also said, “My conscience, principles, and commitment to do what’s right have guided every decision I’ve made as a Member of Congress, and they guide my decision today.”
Kakto faced a backlash from Republicans after voting to impeach Trump over his role in inciting supporters to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as lawmakers were certifying his presidential reelection defeat.
A former federal prosecutor, Katko faced at least one primary challenger in his district, which is centered around Syracuse, N.Y. New York is redrawing its congressional district lines to reflect the 2020 Census, and its new boundaries are uncertain.
Katko became the 12th House Republican to announce they’re not seeking reelection in 2022. So far 26 House Democrats have said they are retiring after this year.
The congressman sent the following email Friday, saying in part:
“For the past 32 years, I’ve devoted my life to protecting and serving our community and our country. First as a federal prosecutor, and now as a Member of Congress, it has been my mission to unite people in order to solve serious problems.
“We have had great success in this mission: passing a long-needed and bipartisan infrastructure package, addressing drug addiction and mental health, lowering taxes on the middle class, leading efforts to secure our homeland and keep this country safe – and far too many others to mention. This experience has been rewarding in ways I never thought possible.
“During this same time, I have been blessed beyond belief with family, health, and the most loving and patient wife on earth. Over the course of the past three years, my wife Robin and I buried all four of our parents. To say that those gut-wrenching times provided life-changing perspective for me is putting it mildly.
“That’s why, after 32 years of public service, I have decided not to seek re-election to Congress, so that I can enjoy my family and life in a fuller and more present way.
“My conscience, principles, and commitment to do what’s right have guided every decision I’ve made as a Member of Congress, and they guide my decision today. It is how I’ve been able to unite people to solve problems, and how I was rewarded with resounding victories in every single campaign for Congress.
“Representing Central New York in Congress — solving real problems, and relentlessly championing bipartisanship — has been the honor and privilege of a lifetime. It is with profound gratitude for my colleagues, staff, supporters, team, and the people of New York’s 24th Congressional District that I am thrilled to begin this next and best chapter of my life alongside Robin and our family.”