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The House was only on its fifth day of winter recess when the retirement announcements began.
Rep. Frank R. Wolf, a 17-term Virginia Republican, announced Tuesday he would not seek re-election. Eighty-four minutes later, Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, shocked Capitol Hill by declaring his retirement. Near the end of the business day, Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, capped off the trio with his departure announcement.
This is just the beginning. Nine House members have announced retirements for reasons other than seeking higher office, according to Roll Call’s Casualty List. An average of 23 House members retired in each of the past three cycles, and many of them announced their departures around the holiday season.
The aftermath will reshape the landscape of the 2014 cycle. For example, Matheson’s departure virtually hands his seat to the GOP, while Latham’s exit puts his seat in play again for Democrats.
“Both sides are watching their guys and I’m sure both the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] and [National Republican Congressional Committee] are talking with some of their members that have been considering,” said Guy Harrison, a former NRCC executive director. “After a long year, members go home and come back thinking in a different way about what they want to do with their lives.”
There are often clues as to which members are eyeing the exits. Without an incentive to bring in big bucks for re-election, they often report low fundraising numbers. Health problems or personal changes prompt some members to reconsider the long weekends and flights to Capitol Hill. And the comforts of home and family can strike a contrast to the brutal political environment in Congress.
These clues, plus interviews with dozens of congressional operatives from both parties, yielded the following names of members who — despite their public denials — might call it quits in 2014. They are divided into four categories:Representatives With Health Issues
A McCarthy source noted that the 69-year-old often graces House retirement watch lists. For now, the source said, McCarthy has finished her treatment and looks forward to her doctor approving her return to Congress. The Empire State’s filing deadline is in April.
At 35, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., is one of the youngest members in her caucus. The GOP rising star has more than a half-million in her campaign war chest and has already filed to run.