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Republicans seek advantage as House Democrats opt for retirement over re-election

WASHINGTON – House Democrats appeared to have gotten the message from Tuesday’s election: the political winds are not blowing in their favor.

After months of delays and dead ends, House Democrats passed the $ 555 billion infrastructure bill in days, a move political prognosticators told them could help turn the tide of success Republican in the elections.

But Republican Glenn Youngkin’s victory in Virginia’s gubernatorial race has likely made many more Democrats nervous about how easily they will be able to hold onto their seats.

And there is nervousness in some Democratic neighborhoods that the warning will be heeded by some lawmakers in a different way: they will drop out and retire instead of running for re-election.

House pensions have become the hallmark of a party that expects to lose power. The logic is often the same: why stick around and wage another re-election battle if your party will have no power next year?

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The number of House Democrats who have already decided to retire or run for another post has been steadily increasing, compounding the party’s struggles for next year’s midterm elections.

“Each Democratic retreat expands the Republican battlefield and further demoralizes House Democrats,” said Michael McAdams, director of communications for the Republican National Congressional Committee.

In October, House Democrats received a heavy blow when party members announced their retirement, including Rep. David Price of North Carolina and Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, who have six decades of experience.

Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky, chairman of the House Budget Committee, said in his retirement announcement that he would be 75 at the end of his term and that he wished “to have more control over my time over the years. years left to me “.

Other notable Democratic retirements include Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick; Cheri Bustos from Illinois; and Ron Kind from Wisconsin.

So far, around a dozen House Democrats have announced retirements or plans to run for another position. But neither side expects this to be the end of the list.

The redistribution process underway in all 50 states is likely to motivate even more lawmakers to step down instead of running for re-election.

The GOP controls more state legislatures than the Democrats, so it has the power to redesign 187 districts against 75 for the Democrats. And some strongly Democratic states, like California, use independent commissions, making it harder for the party to chart its favor.

Just a day after Youngkin’s victory in Virginia, the NRCC announced that it had added 13 more Democrats to its targeted list of vulnerable Democrats.

“In a cycle like this, no Democrat is immune,” NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer said in a press release. “Voters reject Democratic policies that have caused massive price hikes, opened our borders and spurred a nationwide wave of crime.”

Among the Democratic NRCC House lawmakers added to the list include Reps Darren Soto of Florida; Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania; and Jennifer Wexton of Virginia.

Eddie Vale, partner of the New Paradigm Strategy group and veteran of Democratic and progressive political and legislative campaigns, is not panicking yet.

“Take a deep breath and come back to the big picture now,” Vale said. “I’m not saying it’s all puppies and roses, but overall and in the context of things, there aren’t these really huge retirement waves or everyone in competitive seats running for them. hills that are a specific reason to panic. “

John Yarmuth, D-Ky. (center) said he wanted “to have more control over my time in the years that remain to me”.J. Scott Applewhite / AP

House Democrats are betting voters will reward them for advancing President Joe Biden’s generally popular agenda of donating money for infrastructure in virtually every district across the country and sending checks directly to individuals. million parents. The piece of infrastructure received final approval on Friday.

But there remains a national political sentiment that must be overcome.

A recent national NBC News poll found that a majority of Americans now disapprove of Biden’s professional performance, while half give him low marks for competence and the country’s unity, which could be a factor in the increase in retirements.

“When a president is deeply unpopular, his party tends to suffer heavy losses in midterm elections,” McAdams said. “Smart Democrats are running away from the House because they see Joe Biden’s approval ratings plummet like hell.”

By comparison, in 2018, 37 Republicans refused to stand for re-election, compared to just 18 Democrats that year, according to the political monitoring site. Ballot.

The Congressional Democratic campaign committee is yet to sound the alarm bells, but instead touted the Democrats’ accomplishments in a statement, saying they are “going into the year with fundraising numbers of record funds, earlier than ever by organizing investments, a program that is wildly popular and a record of accomplishments when it comes to boosting the economy. “

While House Republicans, on the other hand, have spent the last year “campaigning against unwanted science and promoting ‘The Big Lie’ which led to the deadly insurgency on the United States Capitol.” said DCCC spokesperson Chris Taylor.


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