WASHINGTON (AP) — Twelve-term GOP Rep. Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey announced his retirement Tuesday, declaring that “our nation is now consumed by increasing political polarization” and that “there is no longer middle ground.”
The 71-year-old became the latest moderate Republican to make plans to step down as his party struggles with internal divisions under President Donald Trump. His decision will open up a highly competitive seat in southern New Jersey that President Barack Obama won easily twice. Democrats made clear they will try to win the district as they aim to retake control of the House next year.
LoBiondo serves on the Armed Services Committee and the Transportation panel in the House.
In his statement, LoBiondo insisted he was not motivated by electoral fears. Instead, he pointed to term limits on a couple of his committee roles and said that made it the right time to leave. He also delivered an indictment of the current political climate in Washington and Congress.
“As some of my closest colleagues have also come to realize, those of us who came to Congress to change Washington for the better through good governance are now the outliers,” he wrote. “In legislating, we previously fought against allowing the perfect to become the enemy of the good. Today a vocal and obstinate minority within both parties has hijacked good legislation in pursuit of no legislation.”
LoBiondo joins several other House GOP moderates, including Reps. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, who have decided not to seek re-election in next year’s midterms. The growing list of departures is adding to an increasingly rosy scenario for Democrats, who must pick up two dozen seats to win back the House.