A rising number of House Democrats have stated they will not be seeking reelection in next year’s midterms and House GOP leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy is predicting there will be many more to come – and it could cost Democrats their majority.
Long-serving Democratic Reps. David Price of North Carolina and Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania announced Monday they wouldn’t seek reelection in 2022. Their news came just a few days after fellow Democrat and House Budget Committee chair Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky also said he’d retire from Congress after the end of his current term.
That now makes a total of seven House Democrats seeking retirement rather than reelection in 2022, with another five seeking statewide or other offices rather than bidding for another two years in the House. All of this before we even hit the traditional time at which congressional reps announce their retirements.
The GOP, meanwhile, needs a net gain of just five seats in the 435-member chamber next year to regain the House majority it lost to the Democrats in the 2018 midterms.
Republicans have history on their side – on average the party that wins the White House in a presidential election loses more than 25 House seats in the ensuing midterm election. And the once-in-a-decade congressional redistricting process – which is underway – is expected to favor the GOP, as Republicans control more state legislatures and governors’ offices.
McCarthy believes that after the holidays, more Democrats will announce their retirement in the coming months.
“Once you get past Thanksgiving and members go home, and they’re Democrats and they’ve been challenged before and they’re going to get beat up, Congress is not that great,” the longtime GOP lawmaker said.
Pointing to the redistricting process, McCarthy argued during an interview in August “they’ve got new lines where they have to go meet new people and they’re still going to have the White House. They’re going to make a decision to retire, that’s the best time so they can go get another job. When we get that retirement number up higher, into double-digit figures, the whole thing becomes a different play.”
Of the seven House Democratic retirements, four come from very competitive districts. They are Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona, Cheri Bustos of Illinois, Filemon Vela of Texas and Ron Kind of Wisconsin.
As far as those opting to run for positions in state government, Rep. Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania – who’s running for the Senate – and Rep. Charlie Crist of Florida – who’s running for governor – narrowly won reelection last year.
While all of these seats may be altered during redistricting, they are being heavily targeted by House Republicans as they aim to recapture the majority in the chamber.
McCarthy pointed to Kind’s August retirement announcement as a pivotal moment.
“When you sit back and you look and you want to pinpoint when was the bellwether, when was the moment in time that you truly felt that you knew that the majority was in play and you had the capability of winning – when Ron Kind said that he was retiring,” McCarthy emphasized.
Nine House Republicans are not seeking another term, with six of them running for statewide office. But only one of them was relatively competitive, with Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York winning 2020 reelection by less than 10 points.
House retirements are often seen as an early barometer of things to come in the midterms. The last time the House flipped, amid a blue wave in the 2018 midterms, there were 23 GOP retirements compared to just 10 among House Democrats.
Competitive seats become even more vulnerable without a well-known incumbent with a healthy war chest running for reelection.
Author: Kendrick Boyin