The number of US officials not seeking re-election is now 19. Since our last update, GOP MP Anthony Gonzalez bowed to a Republican revolt in his district over his vote to impeach former President Donald Trump and the Democratic MP. Karen Bass announced her intention to run for mayor of Los Angeles in 2022. And it wasn’t until Tuesday that Democratic MP John Yarmuth announced that he would resign from the elected office as.
Home retirements are a metric we’re monitoring to give us an indication of how midterms will play out in 2022, but at least on the surface, it doesn’t look like either party has an advantage in this regard: 10 Democrats are retiring by comparison with nine republicans. However, when you examine the specific reasons likely behind any retirement, it looks like the Democrats are more concerned than the Republicans.
|circle||representative||party||Why they go||Partisan slim|
|CA-37||Karen Bass||D.||LA Mayoral Run||D + 68.5|
|FL-10||Val Demings||D.||Senate run||D + 20.8|
|KY-03||John Yarmuth||D.||retirement||D + 19.9|
|TX-34||Filemon Vela||D.||retirement||D + 4.8|
|AZ-02||Ann Kirkpatrick||D.||retirement||D + 2.3|
|OH-13||Tim Ryan||D.||Senate run||D + 0.3|
|FL-13||Charlie Crist||D.||Gubernatorial run||R + 1.0|
|PA-17||Conor Lamb||D.||Senate run||R + 2.3|
|IL-17||Cheri Bustos||D.||retirement||R + 4.7|
|WI-03||Ron child||D.||retirement||R + 8.7|
|NY-01||Lee Zeldin||R.||Gubernatorial run||R + 9.6|
|NY-23||Tom Reed||R.||retirement||R + 15.2|
|OH-16||Anthony Gonzalez||R.||retirement||R + 19.2|
|GA-10||I did Jody||R.||State Secretary run||R + 27.8|
|AL-05||Mo Brooks||R.||Senate run||R + 32.4|
|NC-13||Ted Budd||R.||Senate run||R + 38.2|
|MO-04||Vicky Hartzler||R.||Senate run||R + 39.3|
|MO-07||Billy Long||R.||Senate run||R + 47.7|
|TX-08||Kevin Brady||R.||retirement||R + 49.7|
At that point, six of the Republicans are leaving the House of Representatives to run for other office. Of the other three, Gonzalez is likely to leave because he would have a hard time winning his Republican primary. Rep. Tom Reed appeared to be pulling away in response to his Sexual harassment scandal, and Rep. Kevin Brady said he’s leaving in part because he is temporarily out of his position as top Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee. Reed and Rep. Lee Zeldin, who is running for governor, may also have chosen to retire as the Democrats control redistribution in their home state of New York (which means they’ll be on bluer ground next year could run for office). But considering other factors also influenced their retirement, it can be argued at this point that no Republicans will retire primarily for fear of losing the general election next year.
Outgoing Democrats, however, seem more likely to be motivated by election concerns. Only five of the ten outgoing Democrats are running for another office, while four are currently holding alternate seats: Reps. Filemon Vela, Ann Kirkpatrick, Cheri Bustos and Ron Kind. And only Vela’s seat is likely to be made safe democratic in the redistribution, although he didn’t know that when he announced his resignation. It is reasonable, therefore, to theorize that the fear of losing re-election was a key factor in their decision to retire.
The tenth retiring Democrat is Yarmuth, who currently holds a secure blue seat anchored from Louisville, Kentucky. But he could also retire for fear of re-election. That’s because the Republicans who control the redistribution process in Kentucky eliminate his seat by giving parts of its dark blue 3rd district to neighboring red districts that can accommodate more Democratic voters without becoming competitive – a gerrymandering technique known as “cracking”.
Kentucky hasn’t started redistributing yet (at least publicly) so we don’t yet know for sure what the new map will look like. However, Yarmuth’s resignation could indicate that he expected the Republicans to force him. But even if it hadn’t and the 3rd of 2022. His resignation could indicate that he is not optimistic about the Democrats’ chances next year. Political science research found that politicians are more likely to retire when they see a bad political environment for their party on the horizon.
The good news for Democrats is that politicians are bad experts: there has been a weak relationship in the past between the party that sees the most resignations and the party that does poorly in the next election. But the bad news for Democrats is that regardless of the specific motivation behind Yarmuth’s resignation, history is clearly on the side of Republicans, who are doing a strong performance in the 2022 midterm elections.