Representative Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., announced Wednesday that he will not seek reelection in 2018 and instead will return to the justice system. The former prosecutor has been serving as the representative for the Fourth Congressional District since 2011, when he rode the anti-establishment wave of the Tea Party movement in 2010.
“Words cannot adequately express my gratitude to the people of South Carolina for the privilege of representing them in the House of Representatives,” Rep. Gowdy said in a statement. “I will always be grateful for the opportunity to serve in the People’s House and-prior to Congress-to advocate on behalf of justice in our court systems.”
“I will not be filing for re-election to Congress nor seeking any other political or elected office; instead I will be returning to the justice system.”
From 1994 to 2000, Mr. Gowdy was a federal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina. In 2009, he announced that he would challenge incumbent Republican Representative Bob Inglis in the Republican primary. The incumbent had betrayed the base on climate change and a host of other issues.
In the June 2010 primary, Mr. Gowdy ranked first with 39% of the vote, short of the 50% majority threshold to win outright and avoid a runoff. Rep. Inglis received 27% of the vote. In the run-off, he defeated Rep. Inglis by an overwhelming margin, 70% to 30%.
From 2014 to 2016, Rep. Gowdy chaired the House Select Committee on Benghazi and later pressed for the criminal prosecution of Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information. It was Chairman Gowdy’s investigation into the Benghazi terror attack that killed four Americans that uncovered her use of an illegal private email server.
In 2016, he won reelection against his Democratic opponent 67.2% to 31.1%.
Words cannot adequately express my gratitude to the people of South Carolina for the privilege of representing them in the House of Representatives. The Upstate of South Carolina has an incredible depth and breadth of assets including numerous women and men capable of representing us. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to serve in the People’s House and-prior to Congress-to advocate on behalf of justice in our court systems.
I will not be filing for re-election to Congress nor seeking any other political or elected office; instead I will be returning to the justice system. Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in Congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system. As I look back on my career, it is the jobs that both seek and reward fairness that are most rewarding.
There is no perfect time to make this announcement, but with filing opening in six weeks, it is important to give the women and men in South Carolina who might be interested in serving ample time to reflect on the decision.
To my wife, Terri, and our two children, Watson and Abigail: thank you for all you sacrificed, missed, or did alone so I could serve as both a prosecutor and a member of the House.
To my parents and my three sisters: thank you for having confidence in me and high expectations for me, even when I did not.
To the women and men I worked with at the South Carolina Court of Appeals, the United States District Court, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the 7th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, and in Congress: thank you for the texture, depth and joy you added to life.
To the law enforcement officers and victims of crime: thank you for personifying courage.
To those across South Carolina and our country who, over the past 7 years, have expressed words of encouragement, accountability and even criticism: thank you. All are needed for those in public service.
The book of Ecclesiastes teaches us there is a time and a season for all things. There is a time to start and a time to end. There is a time to come and a time to go. This is the right time, for me, to leave politics and return to the justice system.