Republicans Fleeing the House

When a party is actually bullish about its chances of returning to power -- not just as a PR stance but in actuality -- it's members don't usually flee from office

It's been a year of notable Democratic retirements, but Rep. Vernon Ehlers, the nine-term Republican from Grand Rapids, Michigan, will call it quits at the end of 2010, Hotline OnCall's Tim Sahd and Reid Wilson report.

It's the 17th open seat Republicans will have to defend in 2010 (vs. 11 open seats for Democrats), and Sahd and Wilson note that it could be an opportunity for Democrats under the right circumstances, though the race was not generally seen among the nation's more competitive before news of Ehlers's retirement. John McCain defeated President Obama in Michigan's third district by a slim 49% to 49% in 2008, but the McCain camp pulled out of Michigan early. Ehlers won reelection with 61% of the vote in 2008.

Doing the math, that's close to 10 percent of House Republicans who have decided not to run for reelection rather than stick around awaiting the possibility that their party will regain control of the chamber. Think about that for a moment. The GOP spinmeisters want us to believe that they have a legitimate shot at winning back control of the House of Representatives, and they have been successful in convincing a great number of folks inside the Beltway. Yet nearly one-in-ten House Republicans don't have enough faith in their party's chances to hold out for another term. At least from this vantage, actions speak more loudly than words -- and especially spin. 

Tags: House 2010, Retirements (all tags)

Comments

9 Comments

Grand Rapids

Isn't this seat in the MI GOP heartland?

by vecky 2010-02-10 05:01PM | 0 recs
RE: Grand Rapids

Yes, Grand Rapids is the traditional home base of the GOP.  In the last 90 years the only time this seat was held by a Democrat was for a few years after Gerald Ford gave it up to become VP.  That said, as recent results show, it's not ridiculously Republican and I can imagine a Democrat holding this seat given the right matchup.

The larger point is what Jon notes here, that the GOP is matching the Democrats more or less retirement-for-retirement.

by Steve M 2010-02-10 05:44PM | 0 recs
RE: Grand Rapids

In the unlikely chance that a Democrat did win Ehlers seat, he/she would have to be the most conservative, right wing Democrat around. I can't imagine the Democratic party spending much money on this race.

by MainStreet 2010-02-10 09:06PM | 0 recs
RE: Grand Rapids

Huh?  That's a ridiculous thing to say.

by Steve M 2010-02-11 01:12AM | 0 recs
RE: Grand Rapids

But is it true? I thought the progressive concensus was that we don't want any more Blue-Dogs. And the DNC won't spend any money unless the candidate has a chance of winning.

by vecky 2010-02-11 08:45PM | 0 recs
RE: Grand Rapids

If ever there was a time for long-time Republicans to call it a day, 2010 would be the year. There is likely not going to be a better political environment for the GOP in Congressional races for another generation. While it would be convenient if 'open seats' meant the same thing for both parties at all times, the political calculus is more complicated. Congress-people are both afraid of leaving the spotlight as losers and happy to give all (within reason) in the name of party solidarity. That last point is what makes the House so different from the Senate, where individuality is celebrated.

Suffice to say, what looks like bad news for Democrats can be seen as ho-hum for Republicans. The reason? Retirement is only a lagging indicator, and in and of themselves meaningless. Only when coupled with the polls and recent political trends can we read the tea leaves. It isn't an exact science, but I think we can safely conclude that as of right now, the GOP can sustain House retirements than the Democratic caucus can't.

by JeepCSC 2010-02-11 08:43AM | 1 recs
RE: Grand Rapids

True enough.... more democrats should have retired in 2008, but they all wanted the chance to get some pork, brush up on lobbyist connections and finally be able to say they voted against Health care, job creation, cap 'n trade and everything else.

by vecky 2010-02-11 08:47PM | 0 recs
RE: Grand Rapids

If ever there was a time for long-time Republicans to call it a day, 2010 would be the year. There is likely not going to be a better political environment for the GOP in Congressional races for another generation. While it would be convenient if 'open seats' meant the same thing for both parties at all times, the political calculus is more complicated. Congress-people are both afraid of leaving the spotlight as losers and happy to give all (within reason) in the name of party solidarity. That last point is what makes the House so different from the Senate, where individuality is celebrated.

Suffice to say, what looks like bad news for Democrats can be seen as ho-hum for Republicans. The reason? Retirement is only a lagging indicator, and in and of themselves meaningless. Only when coupled with the polls and recent political trends can we read the tea leaves. It isn't an exact science, but I think we can safely conclude that as of right now, the GOP can sustain House retirements than the Democratic caucus can't.

by JeepCSC 2010-02-11 08:43AM | 0 recs
RE: Grand Rapids

If ever there was a time for long-time Republicans to call it a day, 2010 would be the year. There is likely not going to be a better political environment for the GOP in Congressional races for another generation. While it would be convenient if 'open seats' meant the same thing for both parties at all times, the political calculus is more complicated. Congress-people are both afraid of leaving the spotlight as losers and happy to give all (within reason) in the name of party solidarity. That last point is what makes the House so different from the Senate, where individuality is celebrated.

Suffice to say, what looks like bad news for Democrats can be seen as ho-hum for Republicans. The reason? Retirement is only a lagging indicator, and in and of themselves meaningless. Only when coupled with the polls and recent political trends can we read the tea leaves. It isn't an exact science, but I think we can safely conclude that as of right now, the GOP can sustain House retirements than the Democratic caucus can't.

by JeepCSC 2010-02-11 08:43AM | 0 recs

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