Rep. John Kline to Retire, Opening Committee Chairmanship and Competitive House District

Democrats targeted Kline to no avail in past elections.

Rep. John Kline, flanked at left by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, speaks on Capitol Hill, May 7, 2014.
Drew Angerer AFP/Getty
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Jack Fitzpatrick
Sept. 3, 2015, 11:36 a.m.

Re­pub­lic­an Rep. John Kline of Min­nesota, chair­man of the House Edu­ca­tion and Work­force Com­mit­tee, an­nounced Wed­nes­day that he will not seek reelec­tion in 2016.

Kline’s an­nounce­ment opens up a com­mit­tee chair­man­ship in ad­di­tion to a com­pet­it­ive House dis­trict that Demo­crats had already tar­geted. It also means a re­li­able ally of Speak­er John Boehner will be leav­ing Con­gress.

Kline, who was term-lim­ited as chair­man of his com­mit­tee, is fol­low­ing the same path taken re­cently by oth­er vet­er­an Re­pub­lic­ans on the verge of los­ing their chair­man­ships. Former Reps. Doc Hast­ings, Dave Camp, and Buck McK­eon all re­tired in 2014 after end­ing their com­mit­tee runs.

Two Demo­crats are already after Kline’s seat. Mary Lawrence, a Min­neapol­is doc­tor, put $800,000 of her own money in­to her cam­paign early in the race, and former St. Jude Med­ic­al Cen­ter Ex­ec­ut­ive Angie Craig is also seek­ing the Demo­crat­ic nom­in­a­tion.

Since be­ing elec­ted in 2002, Kline won reelec­tion with fairly com­fort­able mar­gins, des­pite rep­res­ent­ing a swing dis­trict. In 2012, he beat Demo­crat­ic chal­lenger Mike Ober­mueller by an 8 per­cent­age-point mar­gin, while Pres­id­ent Obama won the dis­trict by less than a point.

In the mean­time, Kline said in a state­ment, he will fo­cus on re­pla­cing the No Child Left Be­hind Act, re­form­ing the Vet­er­ans Af­fairs De­part­ment, and cut­ting spend­ing.

“I want to be clear—much more work lies ahead in the next 16 months,” Kline said in a state­ment.

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