Democrats’ concerns about the midterm elections are growing as an increasing number of incumbents retire from battleground House districts won by former President Donald Trump in 2020.
Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., and Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis. — two of seven House Democrats representing Trump-won districts — have announced they won’t seek reelection next year.
Bustos announced her plans in April and Kind last week said will not seek a 14th term in the House.
An increasing number of Democrats fear competitive primaries in swing districts, and Republicans winning control of the House next year.
“I think there’s a feeling that, in some of these districts, without the incumbents, it becomes that much harder,” a Democrat strategist told The Hill. “We’re still talking about swing districts here. But I can’t imagine this is how anyone wanted the midterms to go down.”
More Democrat House members from Trump-won districts might opt to leave the chamber.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said more Democrats will announce plans to retire after Thanksgiving, when lawmakers head back to their districts for the holiday.
“Once you get past Thanksgiving and members go home, and they’re Democrats and they’ve been challenged before and they’re going to get beat up … they’re going to make a decision to retire, that’s the best time so they can go get another job,” McCarthy told Fox News on Tuesday.
“When we get that retirement number up higher, into double-digit figures, the whole thing becomes a different play.”
Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, has not announced whether she will run for reelection in 2022. The Hill said she’s also considering a gubernatorial run in Iowa after ruling out a Senate bid earlier this month.
“I’m still looking at some options that are out there,” Axne told reporters. “Certainly, my number one job is to make sure that Iowa has the best representation possible, whether that’s at the state or federal level for the issues that we need.”
Other House Democrats are eyeing runs for higher offices.
Reps. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., and Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, are running for governor in their respective states. Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., will try to unseat Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., while Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Pa., is trying to win Pennsylvania’s open Senate seat.
Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., and Filemon Vela, D-Texas, also have announced their retirements ahead of 2022.
Crist, Ryan, Lamb, Kirkpatrick, and Vela all are on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s target list next year, The Hill reported.
Democrats still hold a slight 220-212 advantage in the House after losing 13 seats in the 2020 election, and midterm elections usually result in a new president’s party losing ground.
Democrats also are worried about the once-per-decade redistricting process, which began in earnest last week after the Census Bureau released district-level results of the 2020 count.
Republicans control the state legislatures — and consequently the redistricting process — in battleground states such as Texas, Florida and North Carolina. All three of those states will add House seats through reapportionment.
“The Republicans are going to milk the redistricting as much as possible,” a Democratic National Committee member said. “So if there’s anything that we can do, we need to make sure we’re holding the retirements to a minimum, because, structurally, we don’t have the advantage.”