Politics & Government

U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper says he won’t seek re-election

U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., speaks at a news conference in Canton, Miss., on June 19, 2017. Harper announced Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, that he will not seek a sixth term in Congress.
U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., speaks at a news conference in Canton, Miss., on June 19, 2017. Harper announced Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, that he will not seek a sixth term in Congress. AP / File

Longtime Republican U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper will not seek a sixth term this year because of family considerations and because he never planned for it to be a career.

“Serving as a member of the United States House of Representatives has been the highest privilege and honor of my life,” Harper said in a written statement. “The opportunity to serve the people of the 3rd District, our state, and our country is something that my wife, Sidney, and I will never forget. We have been contemplating for almost two years when it would be our time not to run again, and after spending time over Christmas and New Year’s with my family, we made the very difficult decision to say that 10 years will be long enough. I never intended for this to be a career, and it will soon be time for another conservative citizen legislator to represent us. I will work hard over the final 12 months of my term this year, but I will not seek re-election for a sixth term.”

Harper, 61, has served in Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District that includes parts of the Metro Area since 2009, when he replaced former Rep. Chip Pickering. He was up for re-election this year, with a March qualifying deadline for the race and thus far had not appeared to face a serious challenger.

Harper has been considered a rising star in the GOP House leadership. He is the highest-ranking member of the Mississippi U.S. House delegation and the only member to hold a full committee chairmanship, leading the Committee on House Administration, a post to which Speaker of the House Paul Ryan appointed him late last year. As chair of the CHA, Harper oversees federal elections and any disputes over them, the Capitol and House and Senate buildings, Capitol Police and the Library of Congress and Smithsonian museums.

More recently, Harper was named chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. The subcommittee conducts investigations and provides oversight on telecommunications, consumer protection, food and drug safety, public health and research, energy policy, interstate and foreign policy and any other matters under the jurisdiction of the full committee.

As chairman of the House Administration Committee, Harper has had a high profile role in discussions about addressing sexual harassment concerns on Capitol Hill. Harper’s committee has held several hearings on the topic and pushed to made anti-sexual harassment training mandatory.

Harper had also been considered a likely successor to U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, should he retire or not seek re-election.

Harper thanked his family for its support in his statement:

“As many of you know, our son Livingston, now 28 years old, has been a driving force in our lives. We have watched him, in spite of his special needs, overcome obstacles and succeed. Livingston, you are our inspiration!

“Our precious daughter, Maggie, who was in the 11th grade when we first ran for office in 2008, has been amazing and worked as hard as anyone I’ve ever seen. Now, we rejoice that she, and our son-in-law, Brett, are expecting their first child.

“To my wife, Sidney, who has done all the heavy lifting for our family and of course, for me, thank you, and I could not have done this without you.

“Finally, we humbly thank God that He has guided us through this entire journey and we trust Him with our future. Proverbs 3:5-6 says it best for our family.

“I will truly miss serving in Congress, but I look forward to the years ahead as I continue to work on policy issues that matter, and I hope to spend more time in Mississippi. I have been blessed to have the best staff that any Member could ever have. I have also enjoyed serving with an incredible group of Members who care deeply about their districts and our country. I believe that America’s greatest days are yet to come.

“May our great God continue to bless each and every one of you. Thank you for your encouragement, your support and your prayers.”