Rep. Patrick McHenry announced Tuesday that he won’t be seeking reelection, one of the most high-profile congressional GOP retirements of the year.
The North Carolina Republican, first elected in 2004, progressed over the course of his time in the House from conservative rabble-rouser to a well-liked lieutenant of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. McHenry, 48, later served as acting speaker during the frenetic three-week search for a replacement following McCarthy’s ouster.
The departure of the House Financial Services Committee chief announced his departure, first reported by HEADLINESFOREVER, in a statement that described retirement as “not a decision I come to lightly.” His optimistic remarks thanked his mentors and his staff as well as his family for their support.
McHenry also alluded to the institutionalist defense that he became closely associated with this fall as he briefly wielded the House’s top gavel while Republicans descended into infighting over who would lead them. He repeatedly shrugged off proposals to install him as a permanent leader, making clear that he had no designs on taking over for McCarthy full-time.
The lingering concerns about the future of the gridlocked House — which are likely to intensify as veteran members like McHenry himself step aside — are “exaggerated,” he said Tuesday. McHenry added that he sees the House is in “good hands” under current Speaker Mike Johnson.
“I’ve seen a lot of change over twenty years. I truly feel this institution is on the verge of the next great turn. Whether it’s 1974, 1994, or 2010, we’ve seen the House evolve over time,” he wrote, referring to past shakeups in congressional demographics and ideology that have spanned the GOP’s “Contract With America” and tea party eras.
“Evolutions are often lumpy and disjointed but at each stage, new leaders emerge,” McHenry wrote. “There are many smart and capable members who remain, and others are on their way.”
McHenry is expected to be a highly sought-after hire, should he choose to go to the private sector as his next move, since he has experience in House GOP leadership and chairing a top committee.
He was first seen as a close ally to Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), who tapped McHenry as a chief deputy whip in 2015. But McHenry later formed a close working relationship with McCarthy, then minority leader, while filling in for Scalise as the Louisianan recovered from the 2017 mass shooting at a GOP congressional baseball practice.
McHenry was considered part of McCarthy’s inner circle heading into the current Congress, which has been dominated by GOP infighting. The news of his retirement came as a surprise to some of Republican colleagues, particularly since he had recently announced that he would seek reelection.
Now his ruby-red North Carolina 10th Congressional District seat, as well as the top GOP spot on the powerful Financial Services Committee, will be up for grabs. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), one of the panel’s most senior members, intends to seek the post, according to his spokesperson.
GOP Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) and French Hill (R-Ark.) are also expected to be interested in the top panel spot as well.