Shimkus says he’s been asked to reconsider retirement

Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), who announced this summer he won’t run for reelection in 2020, said Monday night he has been asked to reconsider his decision. 

In a brief interview with The Hill outside the Capitol, the 23-year veteran lawmaker declined to say whether House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) or Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), the House GOP campaign arm’s chief, had asked him to run again.

{mosads}Shimkus, 61, also declined to say whether he was seriously entertaining the idea. 

But his remarks come at an interesting time. Earlier Monday, longtime Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, the top Republican on the influential House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced that he would retire at the end of this term, even though he could have served in the top job through January 2023. 

Walden had defeated both Shimkus and then-Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) for the Energy and Commerce gavel in a hotly contested 2016 race. Barton had previously served as chairman, and Shimkus had more seniority than Walden on the committee.

If Shimkus were to change his mind and run for reelection next year, he almost certainly would vie for the top slot on Energy and Commerce.

So far, former House GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) is signaling she will run for the top Energy and Commerce job, sources told The Hill. Other senior members of the panel, including Reps. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) and Bob Latta (R-Ohio), also could run.

Shimkus is the second-most senior member of the committee, behind only Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who already served as Energy and Commerce chairman. It’s unclear if he would try to exercise his seniority and serve again after taking a brief break from the top GOP post due to the GOP’s six-year term limit. 

Shimkus would have plenty of powerful allies if he decided to run again. He has been roommates and close friends with House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the top Republican on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. 

“I’d love to have John Shimkus here for as long as possible,” said Rep. Rodney Davis, a fellow Illinois Republican who served as Shimkus’s district projects director and campaign manager before winning a seat in Congress. 

“I support John Shimkus in almost everything he does, but I think that hypothetical is a very big if,” he added.

One big challenge standing in the way of a Shimkus’s return: Two weeks ago, he called President Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria “despicable” and said he no longer supports the leader of his party.

In an interview with St. Louis radio station KMOX, Shimkus recounted how, after the Syria announcement, he told his chief of staff to “pull my name off the ‘I support Donald Trump’ list.”

Shimkus would be the favorite to win the ruby-red congressional seat, though a number of local politicians and residents have already filed paperwork or announced their plans to run for the vacant seat.  

Tags Cathy McMorris Rodgers Donald Trump Fred Upton Greg Walden Joe Barton John Shimkus Kevin Brady Kevin McCarthy Michael Burgess Rodney Davis Steve Scalise Tom Emmer

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