The first House retirement announcement last week kicked off the biennial game of speculation about which Members might be making this Congress their last.
Rep. Dan Boren (D-Okla.) caught some by surprise when he said he’s stepping down at the end of next year and not seeking higher office. He certainly won’t be the last to throw in the towel this cycle.
Party officials are closely watching some of the longest-tenured and oldest Members — who might decide that it’s their time to gracefully exit rather than run in a newly redrawn district.
Indeed, redistricting will complicate the re-election plans of many Members this cycle, although operatives do not expect the decennial process to lead to an avalanche of House retirements. That’s because the past three cycles have been wave elections and a large chunk of House Members are relatively new.
For Boren, who is only 37, the decision to retire seemed to have more to do with a lifestyle change and having a young family than other concerns.
“Boren didn’t need to retire because of redistricting,” former Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) said. “You’re also seeing a political landscape changing that for some people, Congress isn’t as enjoyable as it was. Usually a retirement is a nice general way of going in this atmosphere.”
Open seats also create prime pickup opportunities, so both parties are monitoring the Members who may be leaning toward making an exit.
On top of the GOP watch list is Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah), who has spoken openly with reporters about pursuing a bid for governor or Senate instead of running for re-election. Republicans could easily redraw the Congressional boundaries in the state to make Matheson’s district more favorable for the GOP.
Republicans are also paying close attention to Rep. Brad Miller (D) in North Carolina, where the GOP Legislature controls the mapmaking process and is expected to drastically redraw his district. Miller also reported a measly $69,000 in the bank at the end of March — hardly the cash supply of a Member who is preparing for a tough race. But a Miller spokeswoman said her boss is running again.
GOP officials are also monitoring two Georgia Democrats, Reps. Sanford Bishop and John Barrow, one or both of whom is expected to be targeted aggressively by GOP mapmakers. Additionally, Republicans say they’re watching 11-term Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) to see if he calls it quits now that he’s no longer Agriculture chairman. One of the Congressman’s aides told Roll Call that he had not yet said publicly whether he would seek another term.