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Not Just Barney: Eight Veteran House Dems Retiring

Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) is leaving uber-liberal Marin and Sonoma counties after comfortably holding the post for 19 years. She is the second most senior member on the Energy and Environment subcommittee and ranking member on the pro-union Workforce Protection subcommittee. Woolsey won the congressional district after incumbent Rep. Barbara Boxer announced she would run for the U.S. Senate. Woolsey was one of 118 House members to oppose the U.S. invasion of Iraq. She once introduced a bill to abolish the charter for the Boy Scouts of America.

A number of moderate Democrats are also heading for the hills. This includes Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), who won in 2003 when Rep. Gary Condit did not run after the murder of his intern, Chandra Levy. Cardoza's district has been solidly Democratic since 1955. Cardoza, who comes from the agriculturally rich Central Valley, is a moderate on environmental matters and is a ranking member of the Livestock, Dairy and Poultry subcommittee.

Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK) is the son of one of Oklahoma’s main Democratic family dynasties. His father David served as a U.S. senator and governor for the state. His grandfather represented Oklahoma as a congressman in the 1930s. Boren is a moderate on the Natural Resources subcommittee that oversees Native Americans. He has served four terms in the House.

The most notable moderate to leave the House is Rep. Mike Ross. Ross is one of the co-chairs of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog caucus, which saw its number cut in half in the 2010 election. Ross, having served six terms from a conservative Arizona district, has been a powerful voice at the Energy and Commerce committee.

One of the reasons many congressmen poised to assume new power are leaving is that they have learned there is simply little power being in the minority, and the chances of regaining a majority appear slim to them.

Kyle Kondik, House race editor at the Center of Politics at the University of Virginia, tells PJ Media: “It’s no fun to be in the minority in the House." He noted that the retirement of veteran Democrats in safe seats is an admission the House will not return to Democratic hands in 2012: “If you read between the lines, I think you can say that if they were hoping to get their committee chairmanships they would be back. They really don’t see the prospects being very good for taking the House back."