Waves of retirements in the U.S. House prior to midterm elections are not uncommon, primarily because historically speaking, the midterms are usually not good for the president’s party as those elections are viewed as referendums on his first two years in office, and some in the majority don’t relish the idea of being in the minority. The lone exception in recent memory was President George W. Bush’s Republican party gaining seats in both the House and the Senate in the 2002 midterms, a little over a year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
But for Joe Biden, who during his 2020 presidential campaign falsely portrayed himself as a uniter in chief who could pull both sides together in Congress and who could also unite the country, the number of Democrats who have decided to bail on him as the 2022 midterm elections take shape surely has to be a bitter pill to swallow.
At the end of 2021, the number of retirements stood at 25. But earlier today, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) made himself the 26th House Democrat to announce he was not seeking re-election, stating it was “time to move on” and “explore other opportunities”:
After much thought and consideration, I have decided not to run for reelection. It’s been a privilege and honor of a lifetime to serve Colorado, the state I love and have always called home. pic.twitter.com/42vwPpN3cQ
— Ed Perlmutter (@Ed4Colorado) January 10, 2022
Perlmutter has been in Congress since 2007, and though he’s easily won re-election each time, the district is now ranked D+6 according to FiveThirtyEight, made slightly more competitive due to recent redistricting done by an independent commission. Republicans had already announced in November that they would be adding the district to their list of targets for 2022:
In November, the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is responsible for trying to get Republicans elected to the House, said it was targeting Perlmutter’s district as among those they are trying to flip in the 2022 midterms to try and retake the House of Representatives. Colorado GOP Chair Kristi Burton Brown said in a statement Monday that Perlmutter “knew that he was going to lose.”
Obviously, we’ll have to wait and see what shakes down in the district come the fall elections (here are the candidates who have declared so far), but one thing for certain is that despite their whining about how the only way Republicans could win being through redistricting, it appears that it’s the retirements of over two dozen Democrats over the last several months (and with more likely to come) that have turned out to be hurting Joe Biden’s party more – that and Biden himself:
Turns out that retirements are much more problematic for House Dems chances in 2022 than redistricting.
— Amy Walter (@amyewalter) January 10, 2022
With voter concerns sitting squarely on uncertainties about the U.S. economy on issues like worsening inflation and the gloomy jobs/employment outlook, it only seems fitting that a number of House Democrats have apparently concluded it’s best to get out while they can. Can’t really say as I blame them.