Twice as Many Democrats as Republicans Not Seeking Reelection in 2024
Twice as Many Democrats as Republicans Not Seeking Reelection in 2024

By Mark Tapscott

Nearly 40 Congressional lawmakers aren’t seeking reelection in 2024—and most of them are Democrats.

Twenty-one House Democrats are opting out of another term compared to 11 Republicans. On the Senate side, six senators, four Democrat and two Republican, said they’re leaving public office, and one has opted to pursue a state governorship.

In comparison to the 38 lawmakers departing Congress so far this cycle, only 24 lawmakers retired before the 2022 election. Twenty-seven had done so before the 2020 election and 31 in 2018, according to Ballotpedia.

A spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which serves the same purpose for House Democrats as the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) does for House Republicans, didn’t respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.

David Carlucci, a veteran New York state Democratic legislator and campaign consultant with a growing client list, described the wave of Democratic departures as partly attributable to “a normal confluence of events that happens where you have members leaving Congress.”

“Usually, the party that is not in power, you find that there are resignations from Congress,” he said. “If you are in power and you have chairmanships, you stick it out.”

Mr. Carlucci cautioned against ascribing too much significance to the retirement imbalance, noting that, for example, three of the 21 departing Democrats are members of the California delegation and are announced candidates for the Senate seat of the deceased former Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

House Democrats rally on the East Steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Oct. 13, 2023. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The three include Reps Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). Ms. Porter is serving her third term in the House, while Mr. Schiff and Ms. Lee are long-serving veterans of 11 and 12 terms, respectively. Mr. Schiff and Ms. Lee represent safe Democratic districts, while Ms. Porter’s district is competitive, being targeted by both the NRCC and the DCCC in 2024.

Republicans have a ready explanation for the imbalance of retirees that’s centered on Mr. Biden’s mounting problems with voters.

“A civil war in their caucus over support for Israel, a historically unpopular president, and an inexperienced [House Minority] leader in Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) begs the question, why stay? Combine that with the climb out of the minority getting steeper by the day, House Democrats are smart to make a mad dash for the exits,” NRCC national press secretary Will Reinert told The Epoch Times.

The NRCC is the command center of GOP efforts to defend and expand the party’s narrow four-seat majority in the November 2024 elections.

Courtney Parella, communications director for the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), told The Epoch Times that Democrats are “looking for the exits,” thanks to “a historically unpopular president, a toxic and damaging agenda, and an unfavorable political environment.”

Ms. Parella said that “as Democrats continue to lose some of their top fundraisers in the House, several now-open seats have quickly become even better pickup opportunities for Republicans and remain pivotal to growing the majority in 2024.”

(L–R) Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Rep. Pete Aguilar, (D-Calif.), and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) arrive as the House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its last public meeting in the Canon House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington on Dec. 19, 2022. (Photo by Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images)

The CLF is a political action committee that describes itself as “the only outside group to have the endorsement of the entire House Republican leadership.”

“The CLF supports Republican candidates for the House of Representatives and counters the efforts of well-funded left-wing groups seeking to elect liberals to Congress,” it stated.

Mr. Carlucci said the increasing partisan rancor in Congress specifically and more generally throughout American politics is a factor that’s motivating representatives to opt out of reelection bids.

“I think there is something to the fact that politics is changing. It’s always changing but now more rapidly than ever. We have seen the decorum in Congress degraded, at least to us watching it through cable TV. I’m sure there have always been side comments and digs, but now it has spilled over to a former Speaker of the House elbowing a colleague or a sitting senator challenging a witness to fight in a Senate hearing,” he said.

Mr. Carlucci referred to recent incidents in the Capitol in which former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was alleged to have elbowed Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) in the back and Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) challenged a union leader during a Senate hearing to make good on his previously tweeted threats of physical violence.

Mr. Carlucci also suggested that in the case of long-serving members, there’s a growing incentive “after a distinguished career to pack it in because the style of politics now is one where the electorate does not really reward results; it’s much more driven by the theater.”

Then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) talks to reporters inside the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Oct. 2, 2023. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

National Republican strategist Jimmy Keady said a significant factor in the retirement imbalance is that Democrats are having difficulty recruiting quality candidates.

“Candidate quality matters for all levels of government. What we are seeing is a Democratic Party with a deficiency of quality candidates who can win in highly competitive races. Instead of recruiting from the outside, the Democratic Party is having to recruit from their own ranks, jeopardizing their control of competitive districts across the country,” Mr. Keady told The Epoch Times.

“We just saw this in Virginia where Del. Kim Taylor was a key recruit for Virginia Republicans, and she won reelection in a Biden+11 district. Republicans are focused on pulling leaders outside of the beltway to run in these districts, and based on retirements so far, Democrats are going to have a hard time keeping up.”

In addition to Mr. Schiff, Ms. Lee, and Ms. Porter, House Democrats leaving to pursue Senate seats include Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), Colin Allred (D-Texas), David Trone (D-Md.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), and Andy Kim (D-N.J.).

Other House Democrats who are retiring to pursue another political office include Rep. Jeff Jackson (D-N.C.), who hopes to be elected state attorney general; Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.); a Virginia gubernatorial candidate; Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), who’s running for mayor of Houston; and Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) who’s seeking the presidency.

Members-elect of the 118th Congress leave the House Chamber after three ballots failed to elect a new speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 3, 2023. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Retiring House Democrats who aren’t seeking other offices include California Reps. Anna Eshoo, Grace Napolitano, and Leo Cardenas; Michigan Rep. Dan Kildee; Virginia Rep. Jennifer Wexton; Washington Rep. Derek Kilmer; Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes; and Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer.

House Republicans who are departing to seek a different political office include Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) and Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), both of whom are Senate candidates, and Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), who’s a candidate for state attorney general.

Retiring House Republicans include Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana, Rep. Debbie Lesko of Arizona, Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, Reps. Kay Granger and Michael Burgess of Texas, and Reps. Brad Wenstrup and Bill Johnson of Ohio. New York’s Rep. George Santos was expelled from Congress on Dec. 1 following a scathing House Ethics Committee report.

Senate Democrat retirees include Sens. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Tom Carper of Delaware, LaPhonza Butler of California, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Republican Senate retirees include Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Mike Braun of Indiana, who’s running for governor of the Hoosier state.

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