The six-term congressman is the 21st House Republican to announce his retirement, and the third Capitol Hill lawmaker from Georgia who won't seek re-election in 2020. Health problems are prompting Republican Sen. Johnny Iskason to step down at the end of December. GOP Rep. Rob Woodall, narrowly reelected last year in a diversifying district outside Atlanta, will exit at the end of next year.
In a state ment addressing his constituents, 49-year-old Graves of Ranger called his decade in Washington “an honor that won't be replicated.” But he said he's “entering a new season in life” with his wife nearing retirement and their children now young adults.
“So, the time has come for me to pass the baton,” Graves said, adding, “I have decided not to seek reelection in 2020, and instead, join my family in their new and unique journeys." Graves has been a GOP loyalist since winning a special election in 2010. He is a senior member of the powerful Appropriations Committee and is the top Republican on a panel established by majority Democrats to reform the operations of Congress. Graves was among 60 GOP congressmen in October who voted against a bipartisan House resolution that rebuked President Donald Trump for his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.
Graves' 14th District seat leans solidly Republican. Trump easily carried the district in 2016, and Graves won reelection last year with more than 76% of the vote. His Democratic opponent spent much of the campaign jailed for a drunken-driving conviction. It was Graves' first contested election since 2012.
Before he ran for Congress, Graves served seven years in the Georgia legislature. He was first elected to office at age 32.