OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has presided over one of the smallest majorities in modern congressional history, with each passing month it becomes clearer how difficult, if not impossible, it will be for her party to maintain control during this year’s elections.
The midterms are also hard on the party in control of the White House but because Democratic President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have such low approval ratings amid rising inflation, domestic policy failures, a supply chain crisis, foreign disasters, and a porous southwestern border, it looks more likely Dems will be washed out of power by a red wave in November.
Adding to the difficulty of keeping control: A growing number of Democratic retirements, including 16-term Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee, announced last week he would be stepping down as his reelection chances look less likely.
“Today I am announcing that I will not run for re-election to Congress. After 32 years in office, I will be leaving Congress next year,” Cooper said, blaming his decision on the state’s once-per-decade redistricting process following the 2020 Census.
“Despite my strength at the polls, I could not stop the General Assembly from dismembering Nashville. No one tried harder to keep our city whole,” Cooper noted further, according to Breitbart News. “I explored every possible way, including lawsuits, to stop the gerrymandering and to win one of the three new congressional districts that now divide Nashville.”
Today I am announcing that I will not run for re-election to Congress. After 32 years in office, I will be leaving Congress next year.
I cannot thank the people of Nashville enough. You backed me more than almost anyone in Tennessee history. pic.twitter.com/C6LE31uFQC
— Jim Cooper (@repjimcooper) January 25, 2022
Last Monday, the Tennessee General Assembly passed new redistricting maps which dramatically altered Cooper’s Fifth Congressional District. The new maps separated “Davidson County into three separate congressional districts that will dilute the county’s minority vote,” The Tennessean reported.
“Political experts say the plan, approved on a 70-26 party-line vote, could flip the 5th to the Republicans, further entrenching the GOP in Tennessee with an 8-1 advantage in the congressional delegation,” the paper added.
“Democrats’ retirement crisis shows no signs of slowing down. No one wants to run on Democrats’ radical agenda of violent crime, open borders, and skyrocketing prices,” said Camille Gallo, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the House Republican campaign committee.
In all, 29 Democrats have now announced they will not seek reelection, and while not all of those seats are in danger of flipping red, the fact that so many within the party want to call it quits indicates they don’t think Democrats will be in the majority come January 2023.
But also, some Democrats are being challenged by ‘progressive’ candidates in the mold of ‘The Squad’ — Democrats who want to take the party farther to the left. And Cooper was one of them, per Breitbart:
Odessa Kelly, backed by the far-left group Justice Democrats, announced last April that she hoped to unseat Cooper by primarying him. Kelly bashed Cooper at the time, saying he had “no real record of progressive change in nearly 40 years. This city needs a leader who will fight for the people who make Nashville great.”
Retiring Democratic lawmakers aren’t the only ones who see a tough road ahead for the current majority.
According to a recent Punchbowl News survey, only one-in-five Democratic staffers on Capitol Hill believe that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer should not remain in their positions no matter what happens in November.
The poll found that a whopping 62 percent of Democratic staffers said Democratic leadership should change no matter the outcome of the midterms:
Another 17 percent said Democratic leadership should only be switched if Democrats do poorly in the midterms.
And finally, 20 percent said Pelosi and Schumer should stay.
That compares to 28 percent of Republican aides who said the party’s leaders – House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – should be replaced regardless of the GOP’s performance in the midterms.