It was nearly 24 years ago that Republicans swept into power in stunning fashion, ending 40 years of Democratic rule in the House.
But those 73 new Republicans who came to the House and 11 who came to the Senate on the 1994 wave engineered by Georgia Republican Newt Gingrich and his “Contract with America” have now dwindled down to a handful, and after this election only seven will likely be left in Congress.
For his part, Gingrich, a supporter of President Donald Trump, doesn’t see this as the end of an era, but a continuation of a revolution that began in 1964, with presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, the Arizona senator. “I think we were the natural evolution that went Goldwater, Reagan, ’94 Contract, Trump,” he said. “I think there’s a very natural evolution of those things.”
In January, the two likely remaining continuously serving GOP House members will be Reps. Mac Thornberry of Texas and Walter B. Jones of North Carolina, the latter of whom has said the 2018 election will be his last. Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio, another 1994 alum, lost in 2008, but won back his seat two years later in a rematch.
Thornberry and Jones are both in races rated Solid Republican by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. Chabot, however, faces a competitive re-election against Democrat Aftab Pureval in the 1st District, which Inside Elections rates Leans Republican.
Three current Republican senators started their careers in the House in 1995: Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Roger Wicker of Mississippi. James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma has served continuously in the Senate since 1995.
Of the four, Wicker is the only one up for re-election this year, bidding for a second full Senate term. Inside Elections rates his race against Democrat David Baria, the state House minority leader, Solid Republican. Burr won a third Senate term two years ago after announcing it would be his last.
Back in 2014, Gingrich lamented what had become of his caucus. At a reunion of the Class of 1994, he said, “The fact that we do not have positive themes and positive issues is going to cost us seats this fall.”
As it turned out, Republicans picked up 13 seats in the House that year and retook control of the Senate.
Watch: 12 Ratings Changes for House, Senate and Gubernatorial Races — 4 Toward GOP, 8 Toward Democrats