OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
It’s getting increasingly difficult to believe that Democrats are going to hold onto their slim majority in the House during the 2022 midterms, and the party’s rank-and-file members are providing that doubt.
An end-of-the-year surge of retirements of Democratic members leaves little doubt that the party does not have much faith in keeping control of the lower chamber and President Biden’s agenda.
Fox News reports:
A trio of Democrats in the House of Representatives – Reps. Stephanie Murphy of Florida, Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, and Albio Sires of New Jersey – last week said that they’ll retire at the end of next year rather than run in the 2022 midterm elections for another term in Congress.
The latest news brought to 23 the number of House Democrats who are retiring or bidding for another office rather than run for reelection in 2022, when their party tries to defend its razor-thin majority in the House amid historically unfavorable headwinds and a rough political climate. The GOP needs a net gain of just five seats in the 435-member chamber next year to regain the House majority it lost to the Democrats in the 2018 midterms.
Among the retiring members is California Democrat Rep. Alan Lowenthal, who said last week: “Just as every journey has a beginning, so too does it have an end. I am announcing today that I will not be running for reelection to Congress in 2022. My first experience in politics was as a teenager working on the campaign of Adlai Stevenson. I have often reflected on him saying that the job of a public servant is to ‘do justly’ and ‘to walk humbly.’ I have tried to live up to this throughout my journey.”
Historically, the party in the White House loses congressional seats — the Senate is evenly divided at 50-50 — during the midterm elections. But in addition to that, President Biden and Vice President Harris are polling badly and much of Biden’s agenda, including “Build Back Better,” appears to be dead in the water.
Democrats in the Senate are refocusing on getting so-called “voting reform” legislation through but they’ll have to ditch the filibuster to do it, and that doesn’t appear likely either, given opposition to that plan from Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
Also, the once-in-a-decade congressional redistricting process is also expected to favor Republicans since the party controls most state legislatures and governor’s offices.
Even before this year’s rash of retirements began, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who is expected to take over for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) if his party wins control of the chamber in the fall, predicted they were coming.
“Once you get past Thanksgiving and members go home, and they’re Democrats and they’ve been challenged before and they’re going to get beat up, Congress is not that great,” the longtime GOP lawmaker from California told Fox News during an interview in August.
Pointing to the redistricting process, McCarthy noted that House Democrats are going to have “new lines where they have to go meet new people.”
He also predicted between the holidays of Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, House Democrats were “going to make a decision to retire, that’s the best time so they can go get another job. When we get that retirement number up higher, into double-digit figures, the whole thing becomes a different play.”
Kyle Kondik, the managing editor of the nonpartisan political handicapper Sabato’s Crystal Ball, told Fox News: “Only members themselves know why they decide to retire. But if there’s an imbalance of retirements toward one party or another, it sometimes can tell us something about what the party with a lot of retirees thinks might happen in the midterms.”