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Veteran California Rep. Jerry Lewis to Retire

Updated: 1:33 p.m.

California Republican Rep. Jerry Lewis, the former chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, is retiring after 17 terms in Congress.

“After months of consultation with loved ones and family, my wife Arlene and I have decided to retire from public life,” Lewis said in a statement.

Lewis is the third California Republican to announce his retirement in the last five days, following Reps. Elton Gallegly and Wally Herger. Like Gallegly, Lewis faced a difficult decision after the state’s new independent redistricting commission carved up his district and left two undesirable options.

The 31st district, in which Lewis lives, leans Democratic. The expansive 8th district is more conservative, but Lewis told Roll Call last year he was not inclined to move at this point.

Democrats plan to put the open 31st district in play and got a top candidate today in Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar.

Lewis, 77, has held public office since 1965, when he served on the San Bernardino Board of Education. He won a seat in the state Assembly three years later and was elected to Congress in 1978. Lewis never won a Congressional election with less than 60 percent of the vote.

In his statement, Lewis’ office touted his work in the 1980s, writing the original law that established the Lower Colorado River water allocation and helping provide funding to refurbish the Capitol and Library of Congress. The statement also made note of his term as Appropriations chairman starting in 2005 and his chairmanship of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense for the six years prior.

Lewis is the 14th House Member and the fifth Republican to retire this cycle. To see the other Members who are leaving, check out Roll Call’s Casualty List.

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