Republican Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana, the recruitment chair for the National Republican Congressional Committee for the 2020 election cycle, has announced that she will not run for re-election in 2020 herself.
Brooks said on Friday that she will instead retire from Congress when her current term in office comes to an end.
“At this point in my life, I’m ready to focus on the people who’ve done so much to support and care for me throughout my career: my husband David and our family and our dear friends,” Brooks said in a statement, adding, “These next eighteen months will be bittersweet, and with time still left on the clock, I’ll continue to be a strong voice in Congress for my constituents and home state.”
The news of her retirement comes as House Republicans are grappling with how to win back the majority they lost to Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections – and how to increase the diminished ranks of House Republican women.
As she serves out the rest of her term, Brooks will remain in her current role as recruitment chair for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm for House Republicans, for the 2020 election cycle.
The ranks of House Republican women suffered a major blow in last year’s midterms and Brooks has been a vocal advocate for electing more GOP women to Congress.
Only one new Republican woman was elected to the House of Representatives and the number of House GOP women dropped from 23 women in the last session of Congress to now just 13 House Republican women.
“We absolutely need a lot more women in the United States House who are Republicans,” Brooks told CNN in an interview earlier in the year.
USA Today was first to report on the congresswoman’s decision to step down at the end of her term.
Top House Republicans praised Brooks in the wake of her announcement.
Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, said in a statement, “I’m honored to call her a friend, and can say that House Republicans will be losing a distinguished public servant and an admired colleague when she retires following the 116th Congress.”
Republican Rep. Tom Emmer, the current NRCC chairman, said in a statement that Brooks has been “nothing short of phenomenal leading the NRCC’s candidate recruitment” and that he is “pleased that her decision to spend more time with her family after this election cycle will not affect her role heading up our recruitment efforts.”
“Susan has assured me that she will be increasing her recruitment efforts, so we are full steam ahead,” Emmer said.
Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos, the chair of the House Democrat campaign arm the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, argued, however, in a statement that the retirement signals that Republican efforts to win back the House “are in a tailspin.”
“As the ranks of women in the House Republican caucus continues to shrink, it must be disappointing to lose such a strong advocate for Republican women,” Bustos said. “Furthermore, as the head of the NRCC’s entire recruitment effort across the country, Congresswoman Brooks’ retirement is the clearest evidence yet that Washington Republicans efforts to retake the majority are in a tailspin.”
Bustos added in her statement that Democrats “intend to compete for and win” the district that Brooks currently represents, Indiana’s fifth congressional district.
In a letter to supporters, Brooks wrote, “There will be much, MUCH, conjecture about my decision,” adding, “I’ve made a lot of career changes, but none with the kind of public scrutiny this will attract.”
She added, “With time still left on the clock, I look forward to finishing strong. It is critical to me that this historically safe Republican seat remains securely in the GOP column.”