A veteran GOP lawmaker has announced he’ll retire at the end of his term.
Rep. Steve Barrar, R-Delaware, first elected in 1996, cited a “serious health issue” and a desire to spend more time with his family.
“This has been the opportunity of a lifetime, and I hope I have represented you well and to the best of my ability,” Barrar said in a Tuesday statement. “It is not easy to leave, I have always loved this job, but after 24 years, I feel it is time to step down.”
Barrar has, for the last decade, been chair of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee. This session, he has been shepherding a large package of bills to help local fire and EMS services — professional and volunteer — stay afloat.
“As many of you know, veterans and first responders have been my passion and in this upcoming year, I hope to get many of the bills over the finish line,” Barrar said.
Barrar is the first lawmaker to announce their retirement ahead of 2020, though multiple other lawmakers have resigned early, either for personal reasons, surrounded by scandal, or to take another office.
Barrar served in the Navy from 1973 until 1975, according to the state legislative website.
In 2009, he sponsored legislation to defund the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN.
Barrar won reelection to his western Delaware County district last year by about 2.5 percentage points, according to Ballotpedia.
His district was a Romney-Clinton district in the last two presidential races according to data from the progressive blog Daily Kos, and gave Gov. Tom Wolf 58.5 percent of the vote in his 2018 reelection, according to election analyst Ben Forstate. Wolf barely lost the district in 2014.
Dena Gleason, executive director of the House Democratic Campaign Committee, told the Capital-Star that she wishes Barrar his best in retirement, but the seat would become a top Democratic target.
“It was a seat we saw a lot of opportunities in already this cycle, and we see even more opportunity now that it’s an open seat,” Gleason said.
Democrats flipped 14 seats in the Philadelphia suburbs last year, and aim to make similar inroads in 2020 to gain control of a legislative chamber.