Wisconsin Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher announced on Saturday that he will not seek reelection, days after he enraged fellow Republicans by voting against impeaching Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
“Electoral politics was never supposed to be a career and, trust me, Congress is no place to grow old,” Gallagher said in a statement. “And so, with a heavy heart, I have decided not to run for re-election.”
Gallagher’s exit from Congress is a surprise, as he had said in June that he planned to run for reelection to seat in Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District. National Republicans had tried to recruit the four-term congressman to run for U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin, but Gallagher declined, saying that he still had more work he wanted to accomplish in the House.
“I have a rare, bipartisan opportunity in the 118th Congress to help restore American strength, prevent war in the Pacific, and defend our basic freedoms from communist aggression,” Gallagher said in June. “Accomplishing this mission and serving Wisconsin’s 8th District deserve my undivided attention. Therefore, I will not run for the Senate in 2024 and will pursue reelection to the House.”
Gallagher’s retirement announcement came two days after he helped sink a GOP-led impeachment attempt against Mayorkas.
“Creating a new, lower standard for impeachment, one without any clear limiting principle, won’t secure the border or hold Mr. Biden accountable. It would only pry open the Pandora’s box of perpetual impeachment,” Gallagher wrote in an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal on Feb 6, the day of the vote on impeachment.
Gallagher was one of four Republicans who voted against impeaching the DHS secretary, enough to doom the effort for the time being in the closely divided House of Representatives.
After the vote, a right-wing activist who is part of Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement announced he was mulling a primary challenge to Gallagher.
“Mike is completely out of touch,” Alex Bruesewitz, who helped organize the “Stop the Steal” efforts to overturn President Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election victory, told the Daily Beast. “He is not the type of fighter that our party needs right now. And the voters of Wisconsin’s [8th district] will have the opportunity to hold him accountable.”
Republican officials in the 8th District also condemned Gallagher for his vote.
“I can no longer tolerate nor support someone who will not follow his constitutional duties and the wishes of his constituents,” Oconto County GOP chair Ken Sikora wrote in a letter to other local Republican Party chairs in the 8th District. “I am calling on all District 8 Chairs to unite and condemn this betrayal.”
Gallagher is the latest Republican lawmaker who has angered the MAGA wing of the Republican Party to head for the exit.
Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) announced in November that he is retiring because he no longer wanted to serve among members of his party who continue to lie about the 2020 election being stolen from Trump. Buck also has come out against a Republican effort to impeach Biden.
In 2022, 11 Republicans who voted to impeach or convict Trump over his alleged role in inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection by his followers at the U.S. Capitol did not return to Congress after they either lost reelection or renomination or decided to retire.
“Pay attention: MAGA is cheering Mike Gallagher’s decision to not seek re-election. Serious Republicans are leaving Congress. We will get more Marjorie Taylor Greene’s who don’t understand the threats we face & will obstruct aid to our allies,” tweeted Alyssa Farah Griffin, a former Trump administration official who has since come out against his 2024 presidential election bid.