The Fix: retirements

House members are running for the exits. Why it’s nothing new.

House members are running for the exits. Why it’s nothing new.

Retiring from the House seems like it's in vogue right now.

Just this week, Reps. Jim Moran (D-Va.), Bill Owens (D-N.Y.) and George Miller (D-Calif.) called it quits. In recent weeks, Reps. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah), Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.) also decided to hang 'em up.

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Why Rep. Bill Young's retirement is a gift for Democrats

Why Rep. Bill Young's retirement is a gift for Democrats

Thanks to the retirement of Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.), a Tampa-area House seat is suddenly in play for Democrats, who need every break they can get to have even an outside chance to compete for the House majority in 2014.

Young's retirement brings the number of open House seats to 15, and his district is the only toss-up among them, according to the Cook Political Report.

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The old bulls of the Senate are leaving. But the chamber isn't getting much younger.

The old bulls of the Senate are leaving. But the chamber isn't getting much younger.

An increasingly high number of retirements in the Senate means the chamber will continue to feature a striking number of new faces as the old bulls are replaced with newcomers.

But even as the the new blood continues to flow in, the Senate isn't getting much younger.

Sen. Carl Levin's (D-Mich.) announcement Thursday that he would retire makes him the seventh senator to announce his exit so far this year. The number of Senate retirements over the past three election cycles (25) is already tied for the second-most since the 1970s and could wind up setting a new record.

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McCotter opts against write-in campaign

McCotter opts against write-in campaign

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) announced Saturday that he will retire from Congress rather than run in the upcoming GOP primary as a write-in candidate.

McCotter failed to qualify for the ballot after nearly all of his petition signatures failed to pass muster, and the matter is being investigated by the state attorney general’s office. The congressman has blamed the situation on staff who lied to him.

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Congressional retirements reach highest point since 1996

Congressional retirements continue to mount, and now more incumbents are calling it quits than at any point in the last 16 years.
Rep. Dan Boren (D-Okla.) is one of 25 House incumbents retiring this year. And unlike most of his fellow retirees, his exit puts a previously safe seat in play. (Linda Davidson/Washington Post)

New York Democratic Rep. Edolphus Townsretirement announcement today makes him the 25th House retirement of this cycle. Add in the 10 Senate retirements, and you’ve got the most combined retirements since 1996, when Democratic lawmakers retired in droves after the Republican Revolution of 1994 (and many Republicans joined them).

Add in another 15 House members running for other/higher office, and the next Congress is already promising to include plenty of turnover — with 50 out of 535 members (nearly 10 percent) already leaving their seats.

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Rep. Edolphus Towns, a New York Democrat, won’t seek reelection

Fifteen-term Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) has decided not to seek reelection this year, according to two aides familiar with his plans.

Towns, who represents a heavily Democratic and majority-black Brooklyn-based district and is a former chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, will turn 78 this year and would have been 80 by the time his next term ended. In addition, he faced a potentially difficult primary with state Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and New York City Councilman Charles Barron.

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Rep. Tim Johnson won’t seek reelection

Updated at 9:09 p.m.

Rep. Tim Johnson (R-Ill.) will not seek reelection this year, according to senior Republican aides.

Johnson has decided against pressing forward with a general election campaign despite winning his party’s nomination for another term last month. Because the primary is completed, county GOP chairman in the district will be tasked with picking a replacement.

Johnson’s district underwent major changes under a redistricting plan crafted by Illinois Democrats. His new swing district included many new constituents for Johnson, who is known for personally calling each resident as he seeks reelection.

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New York Rep. Gary Ackerman to retire

Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) announced Thursday that he will not seek reelection this year.

“I’ve been truly privileged to have had the opportunity to fight for the beliefs of my neighbors in both the state capital and in the halls of Congress,” Ackerman said in a statement. “During my years in Congress, it has been my pleasure to address the needs of thousands of individual constituents and to influence domestic and global policy while serving on the Financial and Foreign Affairs Committees in the House. I am most thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to serve my country and my community.”

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Rep. Jay Inslee to resign to focus on run for governor

Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) announced Saturday that he is resigning from Congress to focus on his gubernatorial campaign.

The Democrat announced his decision at a news conference in Seattle, the Associated Press reported. Inslee is in his eighth term representing a Seattle-area district in the House.

Washington’s Democratic governor, Christine Gregoire, is retiring at the end of her term, and Inslee is running against Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna to replace her.

Inslee’s decision has been rumored for weeks. Some polling has shown him facing an early deficit against state Attorney General Rob McKenna, and the commute between Washington, D.C., and Washington state is an arduous one — not to mention the fact that McKenna has his day job when he’s in the District.

Democrats point to some more encouraging polling in recent days and suggest that once Inslee boosts his name recognition, he will gain in the polls.

By waiting until now to resign, Inslee allows the state to keep the seat vacant until November. Had he resigned earlier, Gregoire would have had to call a special election.

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Top appropriator Rep. Norm Dicks to retire


In this March 30, 2011 file photo, Rep. Norm Dicks ( D-Wash.) speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. (J. Scott Applewhite - Associated Press)
Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) announced Friday that he will not seek reelection this year.

“I am proud that many of these friendships have crossed the ideological and party lines that tend to separate us, and I have always believed that we can achieve greater results if we leave politics aside when the election season and the floor debates are over,” Dicks said in a statement announcing his decision.

Dicks, 71, and in his 18th term in Congress, is the ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, and he was in line to become Appropriations Committee chairman if Democrats were able to regain the majority — which looks like it’s at least possible.

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Rep. Dan Burton, Republican from Indiana, to retire

Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), who has faced a series of primary challenges in recent years, has decided not to seek a 16th term this year.

Burton, who began his congressional career in the 1960s, told members of the Indiana House on Tuesday that he’ll serve out his term but not run again, the Associated Press reported. The 73-year-old didn’t elaborate on his decision during his brief address to lawmakers, but he told reporters beforehand that he was resigning because of family health issues.

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Democratic Rep. Maurice Hinchey to retire

Democratic Rep. Maurice Hinchey to retire

Updated at 3:21 p.m.

Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) will not seek reelection this year.

Hinchey will make the announcement official on Thursday at 1 p.m. eastern time, when he will speak at an historic sight in Kingston, N.Y., according to a release from his office.

Hinchey, 73, has received treatment for colon cancer and has been in poor health for some time. He had a second surgery this month, after which his spokesman declared that he was “cancer-free.”

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Barney Frank’s exit signals growing Democratic retirements, but not yet an avalanche

House Democrats are starting to head for the exits, but it’s not quite panic time for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

In recent days, both Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas) have announced they won’tseek re-election in 2012. Their declarations bring the number of Democrats not seeking another term next year to 17, which has Republicans arguing that Democratic members don’t believe they can retake the House majority next year.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, participates in a committee hearing on in March. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

But eight of those 17 Democrats are actually seeking other office. In other words, only nine Democrats are calling it quits outright.

While that number is greater than the amount of Democrats who have typically announced their retirements at other points in past election cycles, it’s still far less than the exodus that generally occurs after a party loses House control. So when it comes to whether this is a big problem for Democrats recapturing the House majority in 2012, the jury is very much out.

Looking ahead, though, the number of Democratic retirements in the next couple months will be a key indicator of whether the rank-and-file truly believe the majority is attainable. As President Obama’s numbers continue to languish and the economy struggle, some may see the goal slipping away.

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Alan Khazei and Rep. John Olver bow out, clearing things up for Massachusetts Dems

Things are falling into place for Massachusetts Democrats, after two politicians cleared up their future plans Wednesday.

Senate candidate Alan Khazei — the best-funded primary opponent of Democratic favorite Elizabeth Warren — announced he was dropping out of the race. And Rep. John Olver (D-Mass.) announced that he will not seek reelection, in a move that eases a potentially tough redistricting process for the state’s line-drawers.

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Rep. Jerry Costello to retire, giving Illinois GOP an opportunity

Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) will not seek reelection in 2012, freeing up a district that Republicans may have a chance to win.

Costello’s office confirms that the 12-term congressman has decided not to seek a 13th full term.

“It has been a privilege and an honor to serve in the U.S. Congress for the past 23 years,” Costello said in a statement. “However, I said when I was elected in 1988 and many times since that I did not intend to stay in Congress forever as I had other interests that I wanted to pursue.”

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