Many House Democrats are announcing their retirement, signaling a tough midterm cycle for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to try and keep her majority power. Thirty-two House lawmakers have bowed out of their incumbency making a weak midterm cycle even grimmer for the party.
Fifty-five members of Congress are not running for re-election this year, including six of the 34 senators whose seats are up and 49 of the 435 representatives. With four states filing deadlines yet to pass (Florida, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Louisiana), this number could increase as the cycle continues.
It marks just the third time since 1978 that either party has seen at least 30 retirements in a single cycle, according to figures tallied by the non-partisan Brookings Institution. The last instance was just four years ago, in the 2018 midterms, when 34 House Republicans made for the exits. It was a grim sign of things to come: The GOP went on to lose 41 seats — and the House majority — in a Democratic wave widely viewed as a referendum on then-President Trump.
The 11.9% retirement rate among Democrats is the largest since 2014 when 8.5% of Democrats did not run for re-election.
“Thirty House Democrats have called it quits because they know their majority is doomed,” said Mike Berg, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a political handicapper at the University of Virginia, wrote about how scary these retirements are for Democrats in the midterms.
“There are a lot of signs that this is not going to be a good year for Democrats,” Kondik said.
“Incumbency is not as electorally valuable as it used to be, but a party still would rather have an incumbent running, generally speaking, than not,” Kondik continued. “Open seats are still easier for the opposition party to flip than incumbent-held seats.”
Eight of the 32 House Democrats who aren’t seeking re-election are running for other offices, including for Senate, governor, state attorney general and, in the case of Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Los Angeles mayor.
Republicans need a net gain of 5 seats to regain the House majority in the midterms next November.
Punchbowl News surveyed several senior Capitol Hill aides and reported that a whopping 73 percent think Republicans will take the speaker’s gavel from Democrat Rep. Nancy Pelosi next November.