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 was only on Tuesday that Democratic MP John Yarmuth announced that he would also be stepping down from the elected office.
Home retirements are a metric we watch 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 go in compared to retired 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.
19 members of the house have left office so far
Members of the US House of Representatives who will not stand for re-election in 2022, as of October 12, 2021
|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|
The district numbers and partisan approaches refer to the current districts, which are not necessarily the ones in use during midterms 2022.
Partisan Lean is the average difference between the vote of a state or district and the vote of the country as a whole. This version of Partisan Lean, to be used for congressional and gubernatorial elections, is calculated as 50 percent of the state or district’s lean relative to the nation in the last presidential election, 25 percent of its relative lean in the penultimate presidential election, and 25 percent a custom state legislature.
Sources: Daily Kos Elections, News Reports
Currently, 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 retiring in response to his sexual harassment scandal, and Rep. Kevin Brady said he will leave in part because he is terminated – limited from his position as Republican Supreme Leader 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 election). But considering that other factors also influenced their retirement, it can be argued at this point that Republicans do not retire primarily for fear of losing their 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 swing 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 reallocation process in Kentucky could get rid of his seat by removing parts of his dark blue 3.
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 has shown 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 badly 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 middleman election.