It’s still more than a year before the 2020 election, but already there are 15 Republican House members who have announced their retirement.
Texas has been especially hard hit. No fewer than five Texas House members are retiring after this term. At least three of those districts are up for grabs next year.
“We call it the Texodus,” Austin-based Democratic strategist Colin Strother told the Washington Examiner. “The Republican power base in Texas has got to be worried. We are excited.”
Rep. Bill Flores’ announcement Tuesday that he would not seek a sixth term representing the state’s 17th District come amid a flood of House Republican retirements.
So far 15 GOP lawmakers have declared they will not run in 2020. A third of them are from Texas.
“The retirements are a mix of safe Republican districts as well as some swing districts, and those give us some consternation,” Texas Republican strategist Brendan Steinhauser told the Washington Examiner.
Campaign analysts said Democrats could pick up three of Texas seats now held by Reps. Will Hurd, Pete Olson, and Kenny Marchant, who announced their retirements over the summer.
Flores and fellow Texas Republican Rep. Mike Conaway, who announced his retirement in July, are from more solidly Republican districts.
Also from a solidly GOP district is 17-term Wisconsin member James Sensenbrenner, who announced his retirement Thursday.
The reasons these members are leaving has more to do with the loss of a Republican majority in the House than any sense of a “blue wave” heading their way.
The retirements of Sensenbrenner and Flores are not, in a vacuum, all that big a deal. But we don’t live in a political vacuum. If you take a step back from the twin Republican retirements on Wednesday, you see that Republicans now have 14 House members heading for the exits after next November as compared to just four for Democrats. (California Rep. Susan Davis announced she wouldn’t run again on Wednesday too!)
And it’s not just the raw number disparity between the sides that tells the story. Of the 14 Republicans leaving the House in 2020, only two are abandoning their House seats to run for statewide office — either governor or senator. The rest are just, well, leaving. By comparison, at this point in the 2018 cycle, 14 House Republicans had announced they were leaving, but nine of the 14 were seeking other, higher offices.
A theme explaining the retirements being proposed on the left is that the electoral atmosphere has become so anti-Trump — and hence, anti-GOP — that members are reading the writing on the wall and getting out while the getting is good.
This is nonsense. Texas is a special case as Democrats won a court challenge that erased district lines that favored Republicans. Some of those redrawn lines make running as a Republican problematic. Those retirements have nothing to do with Trump, but rather local conditions and demographics.
As for many other retirees, sitting on a committee in the minority is drudgery. None of your proposals are given a hearing. None of your bills will be passed. As the election gets closer, more Republicans will probably head for the exits as it becomes clear that the GOP will not be able to retake the House.
Not in 2020, anyway.