RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry, who presided temporarily over the U.S. House for three intense weeks while Republicans struggled to elect a permanent speaker after Kevin McCarthy's ouster, announced Tuesday that he won't seek reelection to his seat next year.
McHenry, who was first elected to the House in 2004 at age 29, unveiled his surprise decision as candidate filing started this week in North Carolina. He currently represents the 10th District covering several counties north and west of Charlotte entering the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
He had announced his reelection campaign in late October, just two days after the completion of another congressional redistricting by the Republican-controlled legislature that kept the reconfigured 10th District on the GOP side of the ledger in the November 2024 election. That announcement also came two days after U.S. House Republicans ultimately got behind Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana to become the next speaker.
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 20: U.S. Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) presides over the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol on October 20, 2023 in Washington, DC. After falling short in two consecutive votes for Speaker, Rep. Jim
McHenry's news release didn’t explain his reversal.
"I will be retiring from Congress at the end of my current term. This is not a decision I come to lightly, but I believe there is a season for everything and — for me — this season has come to an end," McHenry said. "I look forward to what the next season brings for my family and me."
Known as the bow tie-wearing chairman of the Financial Services Committee, McHenry had risen through the House Republican ranks in recent years. As a top lieutenant to McCarthy, McHenry helped him win the speaker’s contest in January and negotiate the debt limit deal made with President Joe Biden earlier this year.
McHenry was thrust into a starker spotlight in October when McCarthy was pushed out of his speaker job in a historic vote.
According to House rules, McHenry was picked from a list McCarthy was required to keep and became the acting speaker — also known as speaker pro tempore — until the chamber figured out who would be the next leader.
As several candidates for the job rose and fell, McHenry resisted overtures from some Republicans and Democrats who wanted to give McHenry more power to get on with the routine business of governing.
McHenry, now 48, ran unsuccessfully for a state House seat in 1998, but he won four years later. In 2004, McHenry pulled off an upset by winning the 10th District GOP U.S. House primary, narrowly defeating a popular local sheriff in a runoff before winning in the general election.
McHenry entered Congress as a hardline conservative willing to speak against leadership, but over time McHenry rose up the GOP leadership ladder, becoming the Republicans’ chief deputy whip in 2015, and a key part of McCarthy’s team.