House Democrats Flock to the Exits Leading into Election Year — Potentially More on the Way

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., meets with reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Heading into the midterm election year — typically seen as a referendum on the president’s political party — House Democrats are flocking towards the exits instead of protecting their wafer-thin majority with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

With the midterms less than a year away, 23 House Democrats have already announced they will not be running for reelection to retire from the public eye for wanting to be with family, focus on health, or say it is time to move on, while some Democrats are also looking to run for a different office, such as the U.S. Senate.

However, those reasons do not include redistricting, which has potentially influenced members’ decisions, such as Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL). Murphy said she is not running for reelection but claimed reasons other than redistricting even though her seat would essentially be torn in two and absorbed by other districts if the current proposed map passed the state’s legislature. All of this came after she was snubbed out of running for the Senate by Florida congressional colleague Rep. Val Demings (D-FL).

The 15 Democrats that have announced they are retiring from public office after the current term, which expires in January 2023:

  • Reps. Filemon Vela (D-TX) and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) announced their retirements in March.
  • Former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairwoman Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) announced she would not seek reelection in April.
  • Scandal-ridden Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) announced he would retire after his current term in August.
  • House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), along with longtime Reps. David Price (D-NC) and Mike Doyle (D-PA) announced that they would not be seeking reelection in October.
  • Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), longtime Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), and House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairwoman Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), they would not seek reelection in November.
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), along with Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ), Rep. Murphy, and Chairwoman of the House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing immigration issues, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), all announced they would not seek reelection after their current term in December.

Additionally, eight Democrats have announced they are running for a different office: 

  • Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) announced in April he would be running for the U.S. Senate seat in his home state being vacated by retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).
  • Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) announced in May said he is running for governor of Florida after previously being governor in the state as a Republican from 2007 to 2011.
  • Rep. Demings announced in June she would run for a U.S. Senate seat in the Sunshine State against incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
  • Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) announced in August he would be running for the U.S. Senate seat in his home state being vacated by retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA).
  • Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) announced in September her candidacy for the Los Angeles mayoral race to replace outgoing Mayor Eric Garcetti (D).
  • Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD) announced in October he would run for Maryland Attorney General.
  • Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) announced in November he would be running for the U.S. Senate seat in his home state being vacated by retiring Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
  • Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY) announced in November he would join the crowded race for New York governor. 

There are also members such as embattled Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) who announced he would be running for reelection, but in a different congressional district than his current one. In October, he announced that he is abandoning his constituents and his seat to run in a new district instead of his now-competitive congressional district, which Republican opponents have long sought to win.

Additionally, House Democrats have also continuously seen low poll numbers in the generic, hypothetical election polls across the county, which could be seen as a result of passing partisan agenda items. Numerous polls have shown Republicans beating Democrats in a generic ballot leading up to the election when respondents say who they would elect to represent them, as Democrats continue to pass partisan agenda items, such as the infrastructure package and the reconciliation bill. One generic poll from RealClearPolitics and another poll from Quinnipiac University showed Republicans leading for the first time since 2014.

Some of those partisan agenda items are the $1.2 trillion, 2,702-page so-called bipartisan infrastructure bill earlier this year — which President Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. already signed into law and the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better Act (BBB). However, while the BBB was considered to be the “marquee legislation” of Biden’s agenda and would have ultimately increased taxes on the middle class, expanded and prolonged the effects of inflation, and added hundreds of billions of dollars to the U.S. deficit, it was effectively killed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), when he admitted on national television he would not be able to support the passage of the behemoth bill.

All of this gives Republicans a chance to gain more seats as strong Republican candidates are already running in the majority — if not all — of the 20 plus districts where a Democrat has announced they would not be seeking reelection. Even though some of the districts are favored towards the Democrats, many of the now open seats or the remaining Democrats would be in tough reelection battles across the county. In most cases, they may have to campaign in new areas where their district did not encompass before the redistricting maps were approved in their prospective states.

Nonetheless, there are rumors of more Democrats abandoning ship in the coming weeks and months leading up to the midterms, as more redistricting maps are accepted and deadlines to file for reelection are getting closer. Some Democrat members to watch out for in the upcoming election are Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA), Rep. Abigail Spanberger (VA), and Rep. Elaine Luria (VA):

  • O’Halleran could face trouble in his reelection battle after Arizona’s new congressional map was unanimously adopted favors a Republican candidate or a Democrat.
  • Axne is the lone congressional Democrat left in her state, and Republicans are looking to unseat her in the next election. Recently, her opposition criticized her for cozying up to the so-called squad members.
  • Spanberger and Luria are congressional members of two districts that could be Republican gains in 2022 after the two areas were won handily by Republican Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin last month.

There have been reports of Pelosi herself contemplating leaving elected office, but a recent report from CNN said she is planning to file for reelection in the San Francisco-based district next year. Pelosi “isn’t ruling out the possibility of trying to stay in leadership after 2022,” one source told CNN.

Additionally, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), a close confidant to Pelosi, disputed the growing reports and speculation of him retiring, calling them “crap” and committing to “absolutely” running.

Breitbart News has extensively reported on Pelosi’s majority crumbling in the past, with the Democrats struggling to find new candidates to run in some congressional districts because the majority, if not all, of the contested districts, have strong Republican candidates already running.

Jacob Bliss is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter.

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