California GOP congressman won't seek re-election

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) A Republican congressman in California said Tuesday he won't run for re-election next year, making him the 18th GOP incumbent to bow out of the U.S. House of Representatives now that the party is in the minority.

U.S. Rep. Paul Cook announced he will instead run for a seat on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors in 2020.

California has 53 U.S. House seats, the most of any state. Its Republican congressional delegation was cut in half during the 2018 midterms, leaving the party with just seven of those seats.

Cook's job in California's 8th Congressional District east of Los Angeles likely would have been safe had he wanted it. President Donald Trump won more than 54% of the vote in the district in 2016. And in a state where the top two vote-getters advance to the general election, the 8th District was the only one in 2018 to have two Republicans pitted against each other.

However, local government jobs in California are bigger than in most states. San Bernardino County has more than 2 million people, making it one of the largest counties in the country.

Cook declined to elaborate on his decision through a spokesman. In a news release, Cook hinted at frustrations with the bureaucracy in Washington.

"As a supervisor, I'll work to carry out the will of my constituents, while fighting the bureaucracies in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., that seek to overrun rural communities like ours," Cook said.

Republican state Assemblyman Jay Obernolte has already announced his candidacy to replace Cook, launching a campaign website on Tuesday that includes an endorsement from Cook.

Cook is the 18th House Republican this year to say they won't seek re-election in 2020 or are resigning from office, a large number that's expected to grow. Just four House Democrats have so far announced they're leaving.

18 PHOTOS
House representatives who aren't running for re-election in 2020
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House representatives who aren't running for re-election in 2020

Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas

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Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas

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Rep. Jose Serrano, D-New York

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Rep. Martha Roby, R-Alabama

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Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Georgia

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Rep. David Loebsack, D-Iowa

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Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah

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Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas

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Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Indiana

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Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Michigan

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FILE - In this May 17, 2013 file photo, Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Texas speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Two Republican officials say eight-term Texas Rep. Kenny Marchant will announce his retirement. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., leaves a closed-door GOP meeting on immigration, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 13, 2018. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., later gave an upbeat assessment to reporters after brokering a deal between party factions on a process to consider rival GOP immigration plans to protect young "Dreamer" immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 11: Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas, attends the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change hearing titled "Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks, in Rayburn Building on Wednesday, September 11, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JULY 13: Congresswoman Susan Davis (D- 53) rides in the 2019 San Diego Pride Parade on July 13, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Daniel Knighton/Getty Images)
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) during a hearing on Capitol Hill on February 27, 2014, in Washington, Tribune News Service via Getty Images. (Astrid Riecken/MCT/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Congressman Roger Marshall (R-KS) speaking to his constituents from the 1st district at the annual GOP convention in Topeka, Kansas, February 16, 2019. (Photo by Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images)
FILE - In this March 15, 2012 file photo, then-Assemblyman Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley, speaks at a Capitol news conference in Sacramento, Calif. Cook now the incumbent 8th District Congressman with several challengers from both parties in the California Primary on June 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
FILE - In this July 18, 2018, file photo, Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wisc., asks a question of Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell during a House Committee on Financial Services hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Duffy, who represents northern Wisconsin in Congress, is resigning in September 2019. Duffy posted on his Facebook page Monday that he was resigning on Sept. 23 to spend more time with his family. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
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Of the 18 departing House Republicans, 16 will serve out their two-year terms but aren't running again for their seats. Former Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino left Congress in January and has already been replaced, and Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin has said he will leave office next Monday.

The move would be a return to local government for Cook, a Vietnam War veteran who began his political career on the Yucca Valley Town Council. He spent six years in the California Assembly before being elected to Congress in 2012.

"While I've been called to serve in other capacities such as Congress, my focus has always been on empowering communities and making sure local residents have the strongest voice in decisions that affect them," Cook said.

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Associated Press writer Alan Fram contributed from Washington.

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