A number of House Republican retirements that increased during the August recess is creating fresh problems for party leaders. The trend suggests that the GOP see little chance of winning back the chamber in 2020.
Presently, 15 Republicans have announced this cycle they are retiring, resigning or running for other offices, including eight since the summer recess began in late July.
The vast majority occupy safe, conservative seats.
“The most likely outcome is a status-quo election for the House. And that certainly influences people’s decision [to retire], whether they think they can regain the majority or not,” said former Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.). He is one of two dozen Republicans swept out of office during the anti-Trump wave election that handed Democrats control of the House last fall.
“For sure, some of those members who retired, [staying in the minority] was a factor in their thinking.”
The GOP base has shifted, he said, creating new power centers that are forcing once-comfortable lawmakers “to have to hustle a little bit.”
Curbelo also pointed to the simple question of finances, considering members of Congress have not received a pay increase in more than a decade.
“The overall atmosphere in Washington is not very pleasant,” Former Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) said. He previously led the House GOP’s campaign arm. “This is a global phenomenon caused by the rapidity of change, the instant communications, the rising expectations of those people who are unhappy with the change, who don’t see [government] helping fast enough and who feel their status threatened.”
This week, GOP Reps. Bill Flores (Texas) and Jim Sensenbrenner (Wis.) said they won’t seek another term in 2020.
They joined six other Republicans to announce over the summer recess that they’re either retiring or resigning: Reps. Hurd, Kenny Marchant (Texas), Sean Duffy (Wis.) and John Shimkus (Ill.), as well as former Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (Utah) and former Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway (Texas).
All told, 15 Republicans have already announced plans to give up their seats, compared to four Democrats.