10 to 15 House Republicans Might Retire. Or They Might Not.

Peter Savodnik, writing for The Hill, postulates that House Republicans could see 10 to 15 more retirements.

House Republicans have limited most of their retirements to conservatives in solidly red districts and a handful of statewide-office seekers, but political analysts say 10 to 15 more Republicans could announce in the coming months that they are stepping down. With the president�s approval ratings between 35 and 40 percent, the unrest in Iraq and GOP scandals still problems for Republicans in polls, the number of possible Democratic pickups looks to be growing.

“If you look at past experience, it would suggest that you tend not to get a last-minute rush” of retirements, said Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “But I don’t know if that’s going to be the case this time. I think that actually the scandals, the problems, the headaches may cause a number of people two or three months from now to decide that maybe it’s time for a change, maybe they need to spend more time with their families. … I think we could see up to 40.”

For now, there are 25 open seats. Sixteen of those are held by Republicans, eight are held by Democrats and one is vacant and was previously held by a Republican.

In the past two weeks, Reps. Joel Hefley (Colo.) and William Jenkins (Tenn.), both Republicans, announced they will not seek another term. Amy Walter, a senior editor at the Cook Political Report, observed that in August 1993 there were three Democratic open seats. By March that had jumped to 22 and by July to 30. The critical question, Walter said, is whether there will be a similar cascade of Republican retirements in 2006 and, just as important, whether those retirements are in competitive districts. “The folks who have announced recently, Bill Jenkins and Hefley, those are very Republican districts,” Walter said. “To me, that doesn’t count in the category of the dominos are starting to fall.”

So, based on the fact that one time, at band camp twelve years ago, a bunch of Democrats retired when there were some scandals, a bunch of Republicans could retire this year?

On the surface, 1994 and 2006 have some similarities. Both were/are off year elections. Both had/have president doing poorly in the polls and both Houses controlled by the president’s own party. Both had/have some financial scandals lowering the reputations of Congress as an institution.

But the similarities end there. 1994 was a perfect storm because all those things coincided with a radical change in campaign finance law that let lawmakers convert all of their remaining campaign funds into personal funds in a one-time-only deal. If a Member was re-elected, the window closed. A lot of them decided to take the money and (not) run.

And where is 2006’s Newt Gingrich? Is there an insurgent Democratic leader with bold ideas that are in synch with the desires of the American public? Nanci Pelosi? I think not.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. denise says:

    “And where is 2006’s Newt Gingrich? Is there an insurgent Democratic leader with bold ideas that are in synch with the desires of the American public? Nanci Pelosi? I think not.”

    If there is, it’s probably Barak Obama, and that’s not about bold, synchronistic ideas. People just like him. That makes it harder to imagine him sweeping in a movement.

  2. bryan says:

    You missed two: 1994 and 2006 are both years that end in even numbers. and both 1994 and 2006 are 6 years from 2000.

    Eerie. I know.

  3. Anderson says:

    Calling all Dem haters, including self-hating Dems:

    WASHINGTON, DC—In a press conference on the steps of the Capitol Monday, Congressional Democrats announced that, despite the scandals plaguing the Republican Party and widespread calls for change in Washington, their party will remain true to its hopeless direction.

    “We are entirely capable of bungling this opportunity to regain control of the House and Senate and the trust of the American people,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said to scattered applause. “It will take some doing, but we’re in this for the long and pointless haul.”

    It would be funnier if it weren’t so, you know, true.

  4. andrew says:

    “If there is, itÂ’s probably Barak Obama, and thatÂ’s not about bold, synchronistic ideas. People just like him. That makes it harder to imagine him sweeping in a movement.”

    Just because the Leftstream media likes someone doesn’t mean that “people’ like him. I’d bet that 60% of the country has never even heard of him.