Texas Rep. Will Hurd announced he would not seek another term in 2020. Hurd is the ninth GOP member to announce his retirement in 2019 — the third member to quit from Texas. Hurd is the only black GOP member in the House and his retirement complicates minority outreach efforts for the party.
But that’s the least of the party’s worries. This latest blow to Republicans comes as the prospect of retaking the House grows fainter by the day.
This pessimism isn’t universal and it’s by no means certain that Republicans can’t find enough candidates to win the 17 or 18 Democratic-held seats that party leaders believe are there for the taking. But it’s looking more and more like an uphill climb.
“These retirements are costing Republicans real money next fall,” said one GOP strategist, explaining the party will have to shift money to the district to save it.
Hurd held on to his seat by less than 1 percentage point during the 2018 midterms.
One GOP House member said the open seats are adding to the GOP’s challenge in winning back the House.
“It just requires a strong candidate and some additional resources, frankly, to build name ID and to deal with that because you aren’t the incumbent — that does make it harder to hold the seat, which is why you’re seeing from the shift in The Cook Political Report and some of those,” the member said.
“The question is, can we gather the additional resources, raise the additional funds necessary to support that while also continuing the efforts to win the majority?” the member said. “History is not kind on this.”
Some party leaders like Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, point out some positives for the GOP in 2020:
“Obviously no one likes to see thoughtful members retire, but only retirement of members in swing districts have a material impact on which party has the majority,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
He said the GOP should be optimistic about its chances of winning back the House if Democrats make a liberal candidate their presidential nominee against President Trump.
“Based on Democratic debate performances and the highly partisan and overtly political hearings conducted by the House majority, Republicans have reason to be optimistic,” he said.
Perhaps, but don’t bet on it. The Democrats look less and less likely to nominate a wild-eyed radical in favor of Old Joe Biden. Biden is adept at making his radical proposals sound almost reasonable. And by strategically opposing the extremists on Medicare for All and decriminalizing illegal border crossings, he has positioned himself as the “moderate” alternative.
So the GOP will have to depend on good old-fashioned politicking to win. That means hustling to find the best candidates, building good grassroots organizations, and fundraising like there’s no tomorrow.
And for the American people, there may not be if the Democrats win.
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