Graves, key McCarthy ally, opts against seeking reelection in Louisiana

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Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) announced on Friday that he will not run for re-election in November, capping off months of speculation over whether the Louisiana Republican would run for another term after redistricting impacted his House seat.

Graves — who has served in the House since 2015, was a key ally of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and played a key role in last year’s negotiations to suspend the debt limit — revealed his retirement after the Supreme Court ruled last month that Louisiana could use a new map that created a second Black majority House district for the general election in 2024. 

The second Black majority House seat was carved out from Graves’ district. 

“After much input from constituents, consultation with supporters, consensus from family, and guidance from the Almighty, it is clear that running for Congress this year does not make sense,” Graves said in a statement reported by local Louisiana outlets.

The redistricting battle over Louisiana’s maps started to brew several years ago. In 2022, then-Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) vetoed congressional maps put forward by Republicans, which had one Black majority House district despite Black Louisianians making up a third of the population. 

That legislature overrode his veto, leading the matter to wind its way through the court system before reaching the Supreme Court. The high court allowed the maps to be used during the 2022 cycle before later clearing the way for new maps to be implemented in 2024 – a decision that came on the heels of another related decision by the Supreme Court that found that Alabama’s congressional maps likely violated the Voting Rights Act.

The new map that was created by the state, however, came at the expense of Graves as Republicans carved out a second Black majority district from his House seat. Deciding to run would have left Graves no choice but to likely primary another Republican.

The Louisiana Republican nodded to the new lines in his statement announcing his future plans.

“It is evident that a run in any temporary district will cause actual permanent damage to Louisiana’s great representation in Congress,” he said. “Campaigning in any of these districts now is not fair to any of the Louisianans who will inevitably be tossed into yet another district next year.”

Graves has not shied away from criticizing the new maps. In January, he warned that Louisiana’s “boneheaded” new lines could put Republicans at risk of losing the House majority come November.

“In doing so [Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.)] has a two-seat majority and they effectively just took one of those seats away voluntarily,” Graves told USA Today Network in an interview. “What happens if that causes Republicans to lose the House?”

“It was a boneheaded move to do what was done last week — a real head-scratcher. Nobody campaigned on these issues,” he added.

Graves is the 25th House Republican — and 50th member of the chamber — to announce that they will leave the lower chamber at the end of their current term to either retire or seek another office, according to the House Press Gallery.

His planned departure means that the three key Republicans who helped negotiate the debt limit deal last year — which prevented the U.S. from plummeting into its first economic default — will not be in Congress next term.

McCarthy resigned from the House in December after he was ousted from the Speakership in October, marking the first successful motion to vacate in history.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) — who played an instrumental role in the debt limit negotiations before serving as Speaker pro tempore following McCarthy’s removal from the top job — announced in December that he would not seek re-election in November, putting an end point on his nearly two-decade tenure in Congress.

Graves was first elected to represent Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District in the House in 2014, filling the seat that Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) departed to run for the upper chamber.

Graves currently serves as the chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Aviation. He is also a member of the House Natural Resources Committee.

In his statement upon announcing his retirement, Graves said it was “a serious disappointment” to miss an opportunity to “champion Louisiana’s priorities” in the committee.

Graves’s departure is also a blow to the McCarthy-aligned faction of the wing, which has seen several members opt again seeking reelection and amid enduring turmoil within the House.

“Representing South Louisiana and serving in the United States Congress has been an incredible honor,” Graves said in his statement Friday. “From the beginning and ever since, we have constantly emphasized that our decisions and actions are grounded in what’s best for Louisianians first and foremost. Our accomplishments confirm the steadfast commitment to this objective.”

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