As expected by many California Republicans for months, thirteen-term Rep. Elton Gallegly announced today that he would not seek re-election next year. Gallegly’s decision was recognition of his status as one of at least five Republican House Members in the Golden State severely harmed by the new redistricting plan carved by an “independent” citizens commission (of which published reports are now saying was tainted by influence from Democratic state legislators).
Under the new district lines, Gallegly would have been forced to run in a new Ventura County district in which his former district was merged with that of neighboring GOP Rep. Buck McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Rather than oppose fellow conservative McKeon, the former Simi Valley mayor chose the better part of valor and announced he was moving on.
Gallegly’s first and only hard-fought race for Congress was his first election in 1986, in which he won an upset in the GOP primary over the late Tony Hope, son of Bob and Delores Hope. This reporter had predicted a solid win and, upon greeting Gallegly at a reception for freshmen lawmakers after the election, mentioned the prediction that came out differently to the congressman-elect. Gallegly smiled and said: “Don’t worry. You have a lot of company on that one!”
Gallegly’s departure will raise an intriguing question in the next Congress (if, of course, Republicans retain control): Will he be succeeded as chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Enforcement by Iowa’s Rep. Steve King, a nationally-known opponent of illegal immigration. A year ago, King was widely assumed to have the chairmanship wrapped up, but was unexpectedly passed over by Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R.-Tex.) in favor of Gallegly. Although the Californian was senior in the House to six-termer King, the Iowa lawmaker had seniority on the subcommittee.
The question of King following Gallegly is surely one Chairman Smith is now going to be asked about–often.