Republican U.S. Representative Susan Brooks will not seek a fifth term in Congress next year.
Brooks announced Friday she will retire to spend more time with her family. In a statement, she says it was also time for “new talent” in the 5th District that covers the Indianapolis suburbs like Carmel, and the rural area on the north to Anderson.
Brooks, 58, says she spent 16 of the last 22 years in some form of public service, and she’s ready to spend more time with her family.
“These next 18 months will be bittersweet, and with time still left on the clock, I’ll continue to be a strong voice in Congress for my constituents and home state,” Brooks said. “There’s still a lot of work to do, and Indiana is blessed with gifted, intelligent, committed Republican leaders who have the fresh ideas and energy to tackle these and other challenges on behalf of Hoosiers.”
Fellow U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) called Brooks in a statement a “mentor and friend.”
“Susan Brooks is the best of the best in the Indiana delegation and she will be missed in Congress,” Banks said. “As a mentor and friend I have learned so much from her and appreciate all she has done to help me be a better representative.”
Brooks said she’s committed to making sure her district remains under Republican control. Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody said in a statement the district has become a top priority for Democrats heading into 2020.
Andrew Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics, says now that the seat is open Democrats have more of a chance to take it.
“It’s a seat that a lot of people consider to be about as close to a swing seat as we have in the state,” Downs says. “However it is still a seat that is still, I think people would have to acknowledge, it leans Republican, if not an outright Republican seat.”
“Congresswoman Brooks’ decision to step aside reaffirms just how quickly the political landscape is shifting toward Hoosier Democrats in places like the Indianapolis suburbs,” Zody said.
In 2014, Brooks was recognized by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce as their “Government Leader of the Year.”
President and CEO Kevin Brinegar said in a statement: “Susan Brooks took her vast public and private sector experience to Washington and passionately represented her constituents and all Hoosiers. … She continued to excel on safety, health, opioid misuse and other priority issues throughout her four terms.”
Downs says Brooks is true to her conservative values, but willing to work with Democrats to enact policy. She also sought more women to run for office.
“And we did see an increase in the number of women who were running, as well as those who won, and that was in both of the two major political parties,” Downs says.
Brooks leaving will be a loss for the GOP, says Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
“However, in a party whose leadership continually marginalizes women’s voices, losing Congresswoman Brooks, who was working hard to recruit women to run for office, underscores the problem Washington Republicans have created for themselves,” Bustos said in a statement.
Brooks is one of 13 Republican women in the U.S. House of Representatives. She was originally elected to the U.S. House of Representative in 2012, following the retirement of former-U.S Rep. Dan Burton.
She previously served as deputy mayor of Indianapolis and U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.
Emily Cox and Eric Weddle contributed to this report.