The Republican stampede out of Congress

Surprising almost no one, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced Wednesday that he wouldn’t be running for re-election. Issa, known to most people for his entertainingly bumbling turn as chairman of the House Oversight Committee during the Obama years, is one more wildebeest in the midst of a Republican stampede, dashing headlong for the exits. He followed his fellow Californian Rep. Ed Royce (R), who announced this week that he’s giving up his chairmanship of the Foreign Affairs Committee and saying goodbye. And there are more to come.

The number of Republican incumbents in the House calling it quits has now surged past 30, more at this stage of the cycle than in any recent election. It isn’t hard to see why, since everyone is predicting an enormous Democratic wave that sweeps over every competitive race, and a few we didn’t realize would be competitive. If you’re looking at a tight race like Issa was — he won re-election in 2016 by a mere 1,621 votes — you’re probably asking yourself whether you’re doomed and there’s no point bothering to run again. That’s the thing about wave elections: They sweep away all local concerns and the ability of an individual candidate to stop it, as voters just cry their displeasure in the voting booth with little regard to who’s on the ballot.

But if anyone can survive that kind of wave, it’s a well-known incumbent. That’s why retirements are so important: They make it much easier for the other party to pick up seats, potentially making the wave even bigger. And there’s another key reason so many Republicans are retiring. It’s not because they’re afraid they’ll lose, but because they’re afraid of what would happen if they won, but their party lost control.

Imagine for a moment that you’re a Republican member of the House. You’ve been in the majority since the 2010 sweep, long enough to get used to it. Your party controls the committees and the floor. You seldom have to take a tough vote, or have to endure hearings on uncomfortable subjects. You’ve got influence, and if you’re high-ranking enough, real power.

Now imagine all that being snatched away in November. You have to understand how different the House is from the Senate, and not just because there are 4.35 times as many members. The Senate has all kinds of rules that give each individual senator prerogatives and …read more

Source:: The Week – Politics


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