Why Republicans Are Leaving The House — And Who Might Be Next

Why Republicans Are Leaving The House — And Who Might Be Next

Republicans are leaving the U.S. House at the highest rate in a decade. As of Tuesday, 24 GOP representatives have already announced that they will not run for re-election in 2018. Of these, 13 are “pure retirements” — those who are leaving politics for good and not running for higher office.The statements from Frank LoBiondo, Charlie Dent and Dave Reichert.

‘>2 cited the political environment as a factor in their decisions. Three others explicitly denied that the environment was a factor.Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Lynn Jenkins, Dave Trott, Frank LoBiondo, Pat Tiberi, Charlie Dent and Dave Reichert. Because the group doesn’t make its membership list public, it’s possible that some of the other retirees are also members of the Tuesday Group. We can make some good guesses, however, about who’s in the group based on public records and some members’ willingness to speak publicly about their participation.

‘>6 of the 13 pure retirees belong to the Tuesday Group, a caucus of moderate Republican representatives who style themselves as the “governing wing of the party.” This septet (88.2 percent Trump score, 0.314 DW-Nominate score, 5.6-point Republican lean, on average) appears to be the core of the group that is retiring for political reasons.

Second, seven7 of the 13 are committee or subcommittee chairs who will have to step down from those leadership roles after 2018 due to term limits. These members are probably retiring, at least in part, because they face the unsavory prospect of holding a lot less power in the next Congress. (Indeed, four of them mentioned the effects of committee term limits in their press statements announcing their retirement.)

Here’s the kicker: The two groups barely overlap. Most of the retiring Republicans who aren’t in the Tuesday Group are term-limited (sub)committee chairs, and vice versa. Only one retiree, Duncan, doesn’t fit into one of these two categories, and he is probably leaving for the simplest reason of all: actual retirement. (He has served in Congress since 1988.) In other words, there appear to be two main reasons that Republicans are retiring from Congress in 2018: The political environment and the loss of leadership roles.

Armed with this knowledge, we can take a stab at figuring out who the next Republican retirements might be. The table below contains a non-exhaustive list of Republican representatives who have not yet confirmed they are running for re-election and who could potentially jump ship based on our criteria — in other words, moderates, people in vulnerable districts or people who would have to give up leadership roles in 2019. The table also lists another critical metric for guessing who’s about to retire: funds raised. Members tend not to raise very much dough for re-election campaigns they don’t intend to undertake.

Who might be next to retire?

A selection of House Republicans who share some characteristics with GOP representatives who announced their retirements in 2017

Dana Rohrabacher CA-48 92.5% 0.628 R+4.2 $856K
Duncan Hunter CA-50 94.3 0.512 R+19.5 410
Thomas Rooney FL-17 98.0 0.461 R+27.0 187
Mario Diaz-Balart FL-25 92.0 0.277 R+6.2 623
Adam Kinzinger IL-16 98.1 0.270 R+17.4 726
Susan Brooks IN-05 98.1 0.375 R+15.6 459
Jeff Fortenberry NE-01 96.1 0.300 R+22.7 302
R. Frelinghuysen NJ-11 92.5 0.290 R+4.7 1,156
Peter King NY-02 86.3 0.260 R+8.3 295
Dan Donovan NY-11 84.9 0.222 R+8.8 493
Chris Collins NY-27 98.0 0.366 R+24.0 631
Bill Johnson OH-06 98.1 0.428 R+37.6 870
Michael Turner OH-10 94.3 0.267 R+8.5 420
David Joyce OH-14 94.3 0.255 R+12.0 554
Glenn Thompson PA-05 98.1 0.308 R+28.0 515
Patrick Meehan PA-07 88.7 0.220 R+1.3 1,027

DW-N = DW-Nominate score
TUES = Member of the Tuesday Group
TLC = Term-limited chair (the member would have to give up a committee or subcommittee chair next term)

Sources: Voteview, Daily Kos Elections, Washington Post, U.S. House of Representatives, Federal Election Commission

Maybe the likeliest retirement prospect is New York’s Peter King, who is both a Tuesday Group member and the term-limited chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. He’s also raised a pitiful $294,848 and has one of the lowest Trump scores in the Republican caucus. Michael Turner of Ohio is another decent bet — he’s the only other member to check both the Tuesday Group and chairmanship boxes. Thomas Rooney’s low fundraising totals would seem to confirm rumors that he’s looking to run for statewide office back home in Florida. Dan Donovan’s fundraising totals raise questions about whether he intends to suit up for what looks like a nasty primary with former Rep. Michael Grimm. Democrats would be particularly gleeful if term-limited subcommittee chair Dana Rohrabacher or Tuesday Group members Rodney Frelinghuysen or Patrick Meehan leave their seats behind, as all three represent swing districts. And Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins may leave not only because of their committee term limits and moderate credentials, respectively, but also because they are both currently enshrouded by ethical clouds.

Since 1976, the U.S. House has averaged 22 pure retirements per election cycle; at 13 Republicans and four Democrats, we’re still short of that total for 2018. Look for several of these Republican names to come off the board in the months leading up to 2018’s filing deadlines.

CORRECTION (Nov. 28, 2017, 4:10 p.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly included Rep. Paul Cook in the second table, which lists GOP House members who might retire. In fact, Cook has already announced that he will seek re-election in 2018. The table has been updated.

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