Congressman Patrick McHenry, R-NC10, has officially announced his retirement from the United States House of Representatives, saying “this season has come to an end.”
“Past, present, and future, the House of Representatives is the center of our American republic,” McHenry stated in the announcement emailed to Carolina Journal. “Through good and bad, during the highest of days and the lowest, and from proud to infamous times, the House is the venue for our nation’s disagreements bound up in our hopes for a better tomorrow. It is a truly special place and — as an American — my service here is undoubtedly my proudest. Since being sworn in January 3rd, 2005, I have worked everyday to uphold the Constitution and the system of government our founders so wisely created.”
“There has been a great deal of handwringing and ink spilled about the future of this institution because some — like me — have decided to leave,” he continued. “Those concerns are exaggerated. I’ve seen a lot of change over twenty years. I truly feel this institution is on the verge of the next great turn. Whether it’s 1974, 1994, or 2010, we’ve seen the House evolve over time. Evolutions are often lumpy and disjointed, but at each stage, new leaders emerge. There are many smart and capable members who remain, and others are on their way. I’m confident the House is in good hands.”
Immediately following the announcement, Pat Harrigan announced that he would seek the Republican nomination to run for N.C.’s Congressional District 10 seat. Initially, Harrigan had announced that he would run in a primary for NC-14 against N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore. Harrigan ran as the GOP nominee in NC-14 in 2022 but was defeated by Democrat state Sen. Jeff Jackson 58% to 42%.
McHenry has represented the district of North Carolina that now includes Lincoln, Catawba, and Iredell counties for nearly 20 years. He was elected at age 29 in 2004. Before that, he served in the North Carolina General Assembly in the 2003-04 legislative session.
McHenry’s decision leaves Republicans with a “likely Republican” contest in CD-10. According to analysis by the John Locke Foundation’s Center for Public Integrity, the state’s 2023 maps indicate an R+9 for that district. However, a lawsuit filed on Monday by 18 black and Latino plaintiffs working with Democratic lawyer Marc Elias’ law firm challenges the new 1st, 6th, 12th, and 14th Congressional Districts in that map as “unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.” CD-14 and CD-6 border McHenry’s CD-10. Plaintiffs are seeking an injunction blocking enforcement of the new congressional map.
McHenry, known for his political instincts and ever-present bow tie, moved quickly through the leadership since arriving on Capitol Hill in 2005. Most recently he served as interim US Speaker of the House after the ouster of Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-CA. In October 2023, the House voted to remove McCarthy by a vote of 216-210, with all Democrats present joining eight hard-line conservatives. McHenry had been speaker pro tempore since January, an appointment only known to a few people, kept secret until a speaker cannot fulfill his or her duties.
The Washington news outlet Politico reported the McHenry retirement story Tuesday morning as one of the highest-profile retirement announcements ahead of 2024.
McHenry was named chair of the influential House Financial Services Committee in December following the 2022 election, after serving as a member of the committee since his original election.
McHenry was also deputy whip to Republican Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana when, in 2017, Scalise was shot by a gunman targeting Republicans during the GOP practice for the annual Congressional Baseball Game. McHenry stepped in as interim whip during his recovery.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to add the candidacy announcement of Pat Harrigan in North Carolina’s CD-10.