In the last five days, House Democrats have lost almost 80 years of seniority in Congress with the retirements of Reps. John Yarmuth (Kentucky), David Price (North Carolina) and Mike Doyle (Pennsylvania).
It’s when those long-tenured members in powerful positions in Congress and in generally safe seats in their states start heading for the exits that we need to ask whether this is the start of a broader retirement wave about to hit Democrats as they cling to a narrow three-seat majority in the House.
With the trio of recent retirements over the past few days, Democrats now have 12 members either retiring outright or leaving their seats to run for other office in 2022. Republicans have nine open seats as of Monday.
Those retirements for the two parties aren’t created equal, however. Among the Democrats’ 12 open seats are two (Illinois’ 17th and Wisconsin’s 3rd) that Donald Trump carried over Joe Biden in 2020 and another four (Florida’s 13th, Ohio’s 13th, Pennsylvania’s 17th and Texas 34th) where Biden beat Trump by 4 points or less.
The danger for Democrats, then, is that wavering lawmakers in other swing seats see the likes of longtime party stalwarts like Price, Doyle and Yarmuth calling it quits and believe that their time has come as well.
“Everyone knows that more retirements are coming, and with Democrats holding a majority of just three seats for now, they can ill afford too many open seats in even remotely competitive races…
“…The holiday season, from Thanksgiving through Christmas and into the new year, serves traditionally as a gut-check moment for lawmakers.
“From 2011 through 2020, the final two months of the off year and January of the election year have prompted the most retirement announcements for members of the House, according to data compiled by Ballotpedia.”
All of which means that the Doyle and Price decisions — both announced Monday — come at the worst possible times for the likes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (California) who is doing her darndest to keep retirement numbers in her caucus low.
The Point: The next few months will be a telling indicator as to how Democrats really feel about their chances of keeping their slim majority in the 2022 midterms. The more Democratic members who bail out, the harder it is to keep that boat afloat.
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