China Hawk Top House to retire, opening seat in Wisconsin battleground

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

Tom Williams | Call CQ-Roll, Inc. | Getty Images

House Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wi., the chairman of the Chinese Communist Party’s Select Committee, announced Saturday that he would not seek re-election this year, leaving an open seat in a key swing state as the 2024 race begins . in high gear.

A former Marine Corps officer joins an exodus of more than a dozen Republican members of Congress who plan to leave their posts, each paving the way for Democrats to try to win back the House majority. His seat in Wisconsin’s 8th congressional district is especially valuable, given the state’s battleground status and the current rail-thin majority of House Republicans.

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

At times, Gallagher has distanced himself from his party. He was one of three Republicans on Tuesday who suspended the party leadership and voted 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 uprising on January 6, 2021, although he opposed Trump’s subsequent impeachment.

Despite the occasional run-ins with his party, Gallagher remains an essential vote of the GOP representing a key swing state. Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 but lost to President Joe Biden in 2020.

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

Wisconsin’s 8th district is a slightly redder district of the Badger State. In 2022, Gallagher won about 72% of the vote against several third-party candidates but did not win a formal Democratic challenger.

This time could be different, however, with Democratic eyes already preparing to replace him. Kristin Lyerly, a Wisconsin OBGYN, has said she is considering an appeal to overturn Gallagher’s chair.

Gallagher has served four terms in Congress. His departure from Washington was unexpected given his status as a rising GOP star. Last year Republicans eyed Gallagher for a possible Senate run, which he declined.

He was also appointed as head of the House’s high-profile committee on China, which was created at the beginning of last year.

The Select Committee on the CCP is a bipartisan group of lawmakers dedicated to overseeing and managing US-China relations. The committee made news in January when FBI Director Christopher Wray announced that US investigators had targeted and neutralized a Chinese-backed hacking group called “Volt Typhoon”.

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