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House Democrats and senior members are pressing rank-and-file members who have announced they will step down this year ahead of what is expected to be a brutal midterm election cycle for the party to stay in their races no matter how stiff the political headwinds.
The Washington Times reported Tuesday that members who have announced they will step down are being asked to run for reelection as Democrats hope to stave off what many expect to be a major Republican wave as President Joe Biden’s approval ratings continue to tank and Vice President Kamala Harris remains equally unpopular amid rising inflation, a chaotic border, and foreign policy crises.
The Times adds:
With 28 House Democrats set to retire this year, including several in toss-up districts, lawmakers told The Washington Times that they are pleading with them not to give up without a fight.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver said he has been trying to persuade Wisconsin Rep. Ron Kind and other Democrats to delay their decision to bow out in highly vulnerable swing districts.
“I talked to him a couple of weeks ago, and I said, ‘Please reconsider.’ Nobody had joy when Ron Kind announced he was not going to run,” Cleaver, a Missouri Democrat, told the Times.
Meanwhile, Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) also said he has spoken with several Democrats asking them to rethink their retirement decisions, though he added that none of them planned to reconsider.
Rep. Lou Correa, California Democrat, said he spoke to several members about rethinking their retirement announcements, though none would reconsider. “It’s clear by the time they announce that they made their decision,” he told the Times.
He blamed the hyperpartisan climate on Capitol Hill, but in fact, most retirements that occur ahead of midterm elections come from members of the party expected to lose control of one or both chambers.
“Most of them think it’s just too much battle up here,” Correa said. “I mean, I asked myself the same thing three weeks ago. Do I run for reelection?”
The Times notes: “Democrats are also facing an uphill battle in midterm elections that historically favor the party that does not control the White House. Further dimming prospects for Democrats are President Biden’s rapidly sinking approval ratings.”
The paper also quoted a House Democratic aide who explained that it makes sense that members running for reelection are trying to talk members out of retiring who have announced they will do so.
“That wouldn’t surprise me if that’s the kind of thing that’s happening,” the aide told the Times. “It’s also the perspective of [Democratic National Congressional Committee Chair Sean Patrick Maloney] or whoever else is making those asks that if they’re fans of those people and they had success, it makes total sense that they’d want them to stick around.”
And yet, some far-left Democrats are planning on targeting other members of their party who they believe are not left-wing enough, according to The Hill, which identified five more moderate Dems specifically.
“We need strong progressives in Congress to have some sort of counterweight and leverage against the conservative, corporate-backed Democrats who are an obstacle to delivering results,” Waleed Shaheed, a spokesperson for Justice Democrats, a left-wing group that has backed several far-left challengers to Democratic incumbents in recent years.
“These primaries are where those seats come from, where that leverage comes from,” he told The Hill.
Specifically, the moderate Dems being targeted are Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas, currently embroiled in an FBI investigation for alleged improper ties to Azerbaijan; Rep. Carol Maloney of New York; Rep. Danny Davis of Illinois; Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, who is running for the U.S. Senate; and Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee.
‘Progressive’ Dems would also like to see Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia defeated by far-left candidates, The Hill reported, but that seems highly unlikely, at least for the current election cycle.