There is a red wave in congress, especially the House of Representatives with thirty one members of the Republican caucus heading for the door before the 2018 mid-term elections, stoking fears among the GOP leadership that they could lose control of the House to Democrats. The Democrats meed 25 seats to take back the gavel.
he unprecedented number of Republican retirements, which includes the sitting chairmen of eight different congressional committees, is a bad omen for the speaker, Paul Ryan, as he seeks to keep control of the lower chamber.
So far, five Republicans representing districts where Hillary Clinton won in 2016 are not seeking re-election this year. Four of them, including Issa, are retiring. The fifth, Martha McSally of Arizona, is seeking the state’s open Senate seat in a competitive primary against Tea Partier Kelli Ward and controversial former sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Representative Darrell Issa was a particular blow to the California GOP where they currently hold 14 congressional seats.
Issa had the closest race of any member of Congress in 2016. He beat his Democratic opponent Doug Applegate by 1,600 votes in a district that swung heavily against Republicans in the presidential race. Clinton won by seven points in a district that Republican Mitt Romney won by a similar margin in 2012.
Issa’s retirement is a major blow to House Republicans in a district that analysts had considered a toss-up. Not only was Issa a nine-term incumbent but as one of the richest members of Congress, he was able to self-fund his campaign.
His decision not to seek another term makes him the second swing-district California Republican to retire in the past week. On Monday, Ed Royce, the chairman of the House foreign relations committee, announced he too would retire. Royce, a 13-term incumbent, represents a district where Clinton won by nearly 10 points in 2016.
Both California Republicans are victims of the changing political demographics of the state. They both represent parts of Orange County, the once deep-red bastion of suburban conservatism that has undergone a transformation in recent years. In 2016, Clinton became the first Democrat to win there since Franklin Roosevelt in 1936.
While about the same number of Democrats and Republicans are leaving thier seats to run for other offices, there will be only 15 empty Democratic seats as opposed to the 31, so far, for Republicans. The big wins in Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial and state legislative races could spur a bigger exodus among the GOP worried over te political environment under the Trump administration. The more Republicans retire in districts that Hillary Clinton carried last year, the more the GOP majority is at risk.
Contributing to the read wave out the door are Trump’s low favorability rating and the inability of the House to pass any meaningful legislation. The trend at this point is giving the edge to control the house to the Democrats. As for the Senate, the retirements of Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), plus the unprecedented win in Alabama and outside change or regaining the majority in the Senate even though they are defending more seats than the Republicans.
The Democrats needs to keep up the momentum through the next several months and get the massage out on their agenda other than just being anti-Trump.