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Republican Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon won’t seek reelection

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Republican Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon announced Monday that he is retiring from Congress and will not seek election to a 12th term.

Walden said in a videotaped announcement that he is confident he could win the 2020 election “based on recent polling, strong fundraising, and the backing of my wife and family.”

But the 62-year-old Walden he said it is now time to pursue new challenges and opportunities. He did not specify what they might be.

“I will not seek reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives, nor election to any other office, but instead I will close the public service chapter of my life, thankful for the friends I’ve made and the successful work we’ve done together,” the Republican said, speaking from the deck of a home with a backdrop of tall fir trees.

Walden is the 19th House Republican to announce he or she will not seek reelection. Three other GOP lawmakers have resigned.

Walden is a former chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee and now serves as the top Republican on the energy panel.

He was a key player in GOP efforts to replace President Barack Obama’s health care law. He also led House GOP election efforts in 2014 and 2016.

Walden is a former radio station owner and was elected to represent eastern Oregon in 1998.

He represents Oregon vast 2nd Congressional District, which encompasses the eastern portion of the state. The 70,000-square-mile (180,000- square-kilometer) district of high desert, forests and mountains is the second-biggest in America among states with multiple districts. Far from the liberal Portland metro area, it voted overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump in 2016.

While Walden, first elected in 1998, easily defeated his Democratic opponent in 2018, last year was the first time he received less than 60 percent of the vote.

Daly reported from Washington.