Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry won’t seek re-election as congressional exodus expands

Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., announcedTuesday that he will not seek re-election, once again expanding the coming congressional exodus.

McHenry said he will finish out the remainder of his term. The Republican is a close ally of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and served as interim-speaker in the time between McCarthy’s ouster and the election of Speaker Mike Johnson. 

“This is not a decision I come to lightly, but I believe there is a season for everything and—for me—this season has come to an end,” McHenry said in a statement. “Past, present, and future, the House of Representatives is the center of our American republic. Through good and bad, during the highest of days and the lowest, and from proud to infamous times, the House is the venue for our nation’s disagreements bound up in our hopes for a better tomorrow. It is a truly special place and—as an American—my service here is undoubtedly my proudest.”

The North Carolina congressman, who has served since 2005, is the 37th member of Congress to announce they will not be seeking re-election in 2024.

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Rep. Patrick Henry, R-N.C., is expected to announce later Tuesday that he will not seek re-election, once again expanding the incoming congressional exodus. (Nathan Howard/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

There are seven senators and 30 representatives who plan to leave the legislature, leaving a slew of seats without incumbent protection in the upcoming election.

McHenry addressed this in his statement.

“There has been a great deal of handwringing and ink spilled about the future of this institution because some—like me—have decided to leave. Those concerns are exaggerated,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of change over twenty years. I truly feel this institution is on the verge of the next great turn. Whether its 1974, 1994, or 2010, we’ve seen the House evolve over time. Evolutions are often lumpy and disjointed but at each stage, new leaders emerge. There are many smart and capable members who remain, and others are on their way. I’m confident the House is in good hands.”

In the House, 20 of the departing legislators are Democrats, while 10 are Republicans. Despite that, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report projects five open House seats as possible Democrat pickup opportunities, while none are listed for the GOP.

The departures come as the Republican Party has been forced to grapple with back-to-back underwhelming performances in 2022 and 2023 amid fallout from the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last year. Most recently, Democrats in Virginia made blocking the GOP’s proposed 15-week abortion limit a cornerstone of November’s statehouse elections – and retained control. 

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The GOP has also been plagued with in-fighting throughout the summer and fall. The rebellion against McCarthy gave way to weeks of bickering about a new speaker, with two candidates being cast aside before the party settled on Johnson.

The GOP has also been plagued with in-fighting throughout the summer and fall. The rebellion against McCarthy gave way to weeks of bickering about a new speaker, with two candidates being cast aside before the party settled on Johnson. (CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images)

The House also voted to expel Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., over extensive breach of ethics accusations.

However, Democrats are not facing a clean sweep in 2024 – their own intraparty divisions have been brought back to the surface in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

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Progressives have revolted against Democrats’ traditional pro-Israel stance, threatening to withhold support from candidates supporting the Jewish State.

Rep. Jayapal

Democratic “Sqaud” member Rep. Pramila Jayapal clashed with CNN host Dana Bash on Sunday over a lack of condemnation of Hamas’ use of sexual violence during their attacks on Israeli women.  (Screenshot/CNN/StateOfTheUnion)

A Fox News poll published Oct. 12 showed widespread disapproval for Congress across the parties, though Republicans fared slightly worse.

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GOP lawmakers’ approval rating is just 30%, seven points lower than Democrats. Their disapproval rating, 66%, is 6% higher than their liberal counterparts in Congress.

Fox News’ Elizabeth Elkind contributed to this report

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