Another top Republican and ally to President Donald Trump has announced that he will step down from the U.S. House of Representatives at the end of his term.
California GOP Rep. Paul Cook said on Tuesday that he will be resigning as a U.S. congressman and instead run for the 1st District seat on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.
Cook, who has represented California’s 8th Congressional District since 2012, has served as a member of the Veteran’s Affairs Committee, Natural Resource Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, and the Foreign Affairs Committee.
“Serving in Congress has been an absolute honor, and I’m proud of my numerous victories amid a tough partisan atmosphere,” Cook said in a press release.
“Our high desert needs continued strong leadership at the county level, and I pledge to fight for this area with the same dedication and conviction I’ve demonstrated my entire career,” he added.
The Republican lawmaker has been one of Trump’s strongest allies in Congress.
Trump, who won Cook’s district by more than 15 points in the 2016 presidential election, endorsed him in the Republican-only ballot in 2018.
While Cook’s seat will likely stay in GOP hands because of its conservative lean, the growing list of retiring Republicans — which now tops over a dozen, including some in key battleground states like Texas — is fueling speculation that GOP lawmakers are growing pessimistic about their chances of winning back the House.
The opening seat immediately drew an establishment-backed Republican contender: Assemblyman Jay Obernolte, who has elevated his standing as his caucus’ point person on budget debates in Sacramento.
Obernolte quickly rolled out a website announcing his run for Congress and touting the endorsements of a range of elected California Republicans, including Cook himself.
Donnelly, the hard-line conservative who challenged Cook last cycle, is also another possible contender. Trump’s decision to endorse Cook over Donnelly angered some conservative activists.
A statement released previously by a spokesman for Obernolte praised Cook’s record of service and added that, “Should [Cook] decide to seek a different office,” Obernolte “intends to continue Congressman Cook’s advocacy.”
Cook is now the 17th Republican who has announced they are either resigning or won’t seek re-election after their current term.
Last month, Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia announced that he will step down from the U.S. Senate at the end of the year.
Isakson said his Parkinson’s disease was “progressing” and that he’d had surgery recently to remove a growth on his kidney.