House Democrats Retiring in Droves

Twenty-three and counting will not run in 2022.

The Hill (“Powerful House Democratic appropriator not seeking reelection“):

Longtime Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), the powerful chairwoman of an Appropriations subcommittee overseeing immigration issues, will not seek reelection in 2022.

“Serving my Constituents in Congress has been the single most distinguished honor of my life,” Roybal-Allard said in a statement Monday night. “Over my many years of public service, I have always strived to do that which is best to help improve my community and my country. After thirty years in the House of Representatives, the time has come for me to spend more time with my family. Therefore, I have decided not to seek reelection.”

“While I will not be seeking reelection in 2022, I look forward to continue to work for the people of my district in the new year and long after I leave public office,” she added.

The Hill on Monday first reported Roybal-Allard’s intentions not to run again.

Roybal-Allard, 80, has begun calling Democratic allies and friends about her retirement, the sources said.

“She is an icon,” said a fellow Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) member.

She becomes the 23rd House Democrat to signal they are not running for reelection during a difficult election cycle in which Republicans are well positioned to win back the majority.

Even in the gerontocracy that is DC, the announcement of an 80-year-old that she will not seek another two-year term a year from now is hardly earth-shattering news. Further, considering that she “has been reelected 13 times with no substantive opposition in this heavily Democratic, Latino-majority district,” one presumes that the party will easily retain the seat.

Still, 23 retirements announced a year out is a lot. Open Secrets has data going back to the 1990 cycle:

(The 2022 chart is old, compiled at a time when only 9 Democrats were retiring.) We’re already on the high side and, presumably, more will drop out in the coming months. We already have more not seeking re-election than we did in 2012, both the largest number of Democratic Representatives not seeking re-election on the chart and the last time redistricting would have potentially displaced a considerable number of incumbents.

It’s interesting, too, that Republicans have significantly outpaced their Democratic counterparts in the race out the door in most recent cycles. Presumably, a lot of that is the radical shake-out of moderates that has taken place since the first Tea Party wave of 2010. Regardless, that would make this is natural cycle for a Democratic catch-up.

Obviously, too, the fact that Democrats have only a five-seat margin and are widely expected to lose big in the midterms is helping hasten the retirement wave. It’s simply less satisfying to not get anything done. Not that they’re getting much done as it is.

FILED UNDER: 2022 Election, Congress, US Politics, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. ptfe says:

    It’s simply less satisfying to not get anything done.

    It’s also less satisfying to field daily extremist death threats, as many in the party are doing. There’s always a heightened sense of danger to any public official, but the last year has made it abundantly clear that there’s a minority that is literally out for blood. If I were in a 46/54 district entering an election cycle like this, I might retire just for the safety of my family.

  2. Ed says:

    Lots of people leave toxic work environments, and I don’t blame them. The problem here is the toxic ones are staying.

  3. Stormy Dragon says:

    It would be useful to see breakdowns of retirements by age and partisan lean of the districts to see if this is fear of losing or just Boomers finally coming to terms with their mortality.

  4. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    the toxic ones are staying.

    Sure, but isn’t that common for toxic work environments? In my experience, the thing that most makes the toxic environment toxic is that the bulk of the environment sees no toxicity because they are the toxicity.

  5. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “…Boomers finally coming to terms with their mortality.”

    Can’t be that; boomers are immortal. (And you have no idea about how disconcerting it is that all of my associates are old people now, either.)