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House Retirement Watch Begins

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On top of the GOP watch list is Rep. Jim Matheson, who has spoken openly with reporters about pursuing a bid for governor or Senate instead of running for re-election.

Also on the GOP watch list are Democratic Reps. Maurice Hinchey (N.Y.) and Dale Kildee (Mich.), both of whom hail from states that are losing at least one House seat and would therefore do their own Caucus a favor by stepping aside.

Meanwhile, Democrats continue to keep tabs on 21-term Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.), who currently represents a Democratic-leaning district and whose name has topped the retirement watch list for several cycles. The party is keeping an eye on 12-term Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) to see whether he decides to step aside after the new Congressional map is complete.

Democrats are also closely monitoring 16-term Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), as well as 10-term Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.). Wolf’s fellow Republicans control the redistricting process in Virginia, and they will try to shore up his Democratic-trending district. However,  Democrats are redrawing the lines for Bartlett in Maryland — and retirement could be the easiest exit for the second-oldest Member of the House.

Although both GOP Reps. Judy Biggert (Ill.) and Joe Barton (Texas) have signaled they plan to run for re-election, the proposed maps in their respective states include lots of changes to the territory they represent. Democrats are keeping tabs on both.

Additionally, Democrats are watching 14-term Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.), whose conservative district is surrounded by districts held by Democrats and might change after the lines are drawn.

Then there’s California, where, for the first time, an independent commission is redrawing Congressional boundaries following decades of gerrymandered House districts that mostly benefited Democrats. The commission’s first-draft map was released Friday and is widely viewed as helpful to Democrats, but it might still push a few Members toward the door.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) is on top of any retirement watch list after her aides told reporters last year that she was considering leaving, and several local elected officials are currently jockeying to be her replacement. The dean of the California delegation, Rep. Pete Stark (Calif.), told reporters as recently as this week that he’s running for re-election, but nonetheless after 10 terms in the House he usually finds himself on retirement watch lists.

Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) has represented one of the most gerrymandered districts in the country for the past decade, but changes to her district under the new map might be enough to make her throw in the towel, although her aide has told reporters that she will run “regardless.”

For Republicans, proposed changes to the Congressional map could also mean tougher races for Reps. Buck McKeon, Elton Gallegly and Jerry Lewis — putting the GOP trio high on Democrats’ watch list. Lewis was denied the waiver he needed to keep the Appropriations gavel when Republicans assumed control of the House this Congress. He has not yet announced whether he’ll seek another term.

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