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Democrats Fear Retirement Snowball Effect

Capuano’s appeal for simpler legislation focused on creating jobs got notable backing across the ideological spectrum. Rep. Gene Taylor (Miss.), one of the most conservative House Democrats, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), one of the most liberal, made similar arguments, those present said.

Freshman Rep. Bobby Bright (D-Ala.), a top target for Republicans this year, took to the House floor later that day to make the case publicly. “People are fed up and angry, and they think that Congress and the White House are not listening to them,” he said. “They think that Washington is moving in the wrong direction and is ignoring them altogether. As we say in Alabama, the Massachusetts election was a bell ringer, and leadership needs to listen to that bell ringing.”

But David Beattie, a Democratic pollster who frequently works for Congressional candidates in the South, noted that the Republican and Democratic retirements in the House have been about even and added that voters are angry at both parties.

“It’s not a good year to be a Democrat,” he said. “But people don’t like the Republicans, either.”

House Democratic leaders have taken pains to demonstrate to their vulnerable Members that they have registered public discontent, are making adjustments and will do what is necessary to back them up in the fall. Pelosi several times last week pledged to “heed” the message of Massachusetts, and in closed-door meetings with different factions of her Caucus, has solicited ideas for how Democrats can reconnect with voters.

At a speech he is scheduled to deliver today at the National Press Club, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) plans to say that Democrats can turn voter anger into opportunity.

“Our test,” he will say in remarks prepared for delivery, “is whether we can turn our frustration into something constructive — whether we can be passionately positive.”

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