Retirements come into play for races in Congress in 2020.
In our relatively new 24/7, all-politics-all-the-time environment, many people are focusing on the 2020 presidential race.
They’ve been doing so since the day after the 2016 presidential election, and it’s wearing on people.
But there’s more to politics than just the presidential race next year, including electing one-third of the U.S. Senate and all of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Control of the House flipped from Republican to Democrat in 2018, and there’s considerable speculation about whether there will be a flip back to the GOP or whether Democrats will expand their political control to the Senate or the White House.
One bad sign for the GOP is that in 2020, just like in 2018, a surprising number of incumbent House members aren’t sticking around to find out.
“Republicans rattled after a surge of retirements,” read a recent headline from Politico, an online publication that devotes itself to covering the news from Washington, D.C.
There are always retirements from Congress as another election year approaches. But Politico reports that “a mix of veteran and vulnerable members have decided to call it quits instead of sticking around to see whether the party wins back power in 2020.”
Regardless of how the 2020 election turns out, that’s mostly bad news for the GOP because large numbers of retirement will rob them of the experience that is necessary to be an effective legislator.
After all, there’s more to being a legislator than holding news conferences and giving speeches.
In recent weeks, five veteran Republicans have announced they’ve had their fills. They include Indiana U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks, a member of the GOP’s leadership team, and Michigan U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell.
There are a lot more who are on the fence about running in 2020, and a retirement watch list is being kept.
Among those perceived to still be making up their minds are U.S. Reps. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, Hall Rogers of Kentucky, Doung Young of Alaska, Fred Upton of Michigan and Greg Walden of Oregon.
Among others considering retirement are two currently under criminal indictment — California U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter and New York U.S. Rep. Chris Collins. Given their predicament, it probably would be no great loss if they decided to call it a day.
Politico reports that “most of the seats being vacated thus far are in ruby-red districts,” meaning they lean solidly to the GOP. But open seats can generate competitive elections if the opposition party recruits a solid candidate and goes all in.
Besides, a political party that is concentrating on keeping the seats it already has is distracted for going after seats that it doesn’t have but thinks it could get under the right circumstances.
Aside from Democrat versus Republican politics, there’s another more important issue to consider — why are so many incumbents stepping down?
Sure, it’s a tiresome job that can take its toll on people. Some of them have had enough and want to do something else.
But some of the retirees spoke of the frustration of being a member of a political body in which both parties are constantly at loggerheads. Not only does little get done, but the atmosphere too often is ugly and contentious.
That applies to members of both parties. A few years ago, when there was a Democrat in the White House, members of that party were departing in striking numbers.
Given the current venomous state of our politics, the ugly circumstances aren’t going to change for a while, and that’s going to continue to wear on the legislators in the trenches.