The growing exodus, particularly among GOP House members, continues a trend that began after President Trump’s inauguration. Of the 241 House Republicans who were in office in January 2017, about 40 percent lost reelection, retired or have announced that they’re leaving.
Holding, 51, who is in his fourth term in Congress, cited the challenge presented by the redrawn district as “part of the reason” for his not seeking reelection.
“But, in addition, this is also a good time for me to step back and reflect on all that I have learned,” he said in a statement.
Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.), 49, a five-term congressman with a coveted seat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, said Thursday that he was “entering a new season in life” and wanted to support his wife and adult children “in their new and unique journeys.”
Unlike Holding, Graves is from a solidly conservative district and ran unopposed in his last two elections. His departure suggests that Republicans aren’t confident that their party will take back control of the House in 2020.
But Democrats are leaving, too — so far nine are not returning after 2020 — mostly out of frustration.
Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.), 67, wrote a letter Wednesday describing how his role on the House Intelligence Committee, which just completed its work on the impeachment inquiry against Trump, had “rendered my soul weary.”
“The truth is that civic discourse began degrading before him,” Heck said, referring to Trump. “At times, it is as though there are no rules or boundaries. Success seems to be measured by how many Twitter followers one has which are largely gained by saying increasingly outrageous things, the more personal the better. There are simply too many hyperbolic adjectives and too few nouns. Civility is out. Compromise is out. All or nothing is in.”
Rachael Bade contributed to this report.