Corrected 4:51 p.m. | The number of House Democrats who won’t be running for reelection next year grew to 13 on Monday with the news that North Carolina’s David E. Price and Pennsylvania’s Mike Doyle will retire after their current terms.
Price, 81, is a veteran appropriator who has used his position to steer federal funding back to universities in his state’s Research Triangle. Doyle, 68, might be best known as the longtime manager for Democrats’ congressional baseball team in their annual charity game against Republicans.
The departures come as Democrats face headwinds in the upcoming midterm election cycle. Republicans need a net gain of five seats to take the majority, and the president’s party traditionally loses seats in the midterms.
Price, who announced his decision Monday on WRAL-TV, has served in the House since 1987 for all but one term. He lost reelection in 1994 but won back his seat in 1996. He currently chairs the Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee and also serves on the Budget Committee.
Price’s 4th District includes North Carolina State University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and he has used his position to steer tens of millions of dollars to research centers back home.
In a statement, he cited an EPA lab and National Guard headquarters in the district as achievements, and said his work as chairman of the House Democracy Partnership remains a “work in progress.”
“Looming over it all is the frightful legacy of the last four years and urgent questions about the future of our constitutional democracy,” Price said. “So while it is time for me to retire, it is no time to flag in our efforts to secure a ‘more perfect union’ and to protect and expand our democracy.”
Joe Biden carried Price’s seat by 34 points in 2020, according to calculations from Daily Kos Elections, but the district is currently being redrawn to reflect the results of the 2020 census. North Carolina is also adding a new 14th District.
Doyle announced his decision Monday afternoon at a news conference in Pittsburgh.
“I believe the time has come to pass the torch to the next generation,” he said, noting that he chose to reveal his plans now to give potential candidates time to build their campaigns. He said he had weighed retirement most of this year, but the COVID-19 pandemic “accelerated” his plans to retire and spend time with his wife.
Doyle said the ongoing redistricting process in the state — Pennsylvania is losing a seat to reapportionment — affected his decision. Noting that Democrat Conor Lamb in the neighboring 17th District is running for Senate, he said mapmakers could look at the region with “fresh eyes” in order preserve two Democratic seats in western Pennsylvania.
Doyle was first elected to the House in 1994, and his 18th District includes Pittsburgh and some surrounding suburbs.
The chairman of the Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee, Doyle was already facing a primary challenge from Jerry Dickinson, a constitutional law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Dickinson, who unsuccessfully challenged Doyle in a primary last cycle, has outraised Doyle in the last two fundraising quarters, raising $333,000 to Doyle’s $167,000 as of Sept. 30, Federal Election Commission reports show.
But an open-seat race is expected to draw a slew of other Democratic candidates. State Rep. Summer Lee filed to run on Monday and other potential candidates include state Rep. Austin Davis and Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O’Connor, according to a Pennsylvania Democratic source.
Biden carried Doyle’s district by 30 points last fall. Doyle defeated Dickinson by 34 points in the primary and went on to win an 14th term by 38 points.
Five other Democrats — Cheri Bustos of Illinois, Filemon Vela of Texas, Ron Kind of Wisconsin, Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona and John Yarmuth of Kentucky — said earlier this year they would retire rather than run again in 2022. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas said before her 2020 reelection that this would be her last term.
Five other Democrats are running for other offices. Reps. Val B. Demings of Florida, Tim Ryan of Ohio and Lamb are running for Senate, while Florida’s Charlie Crist is running for governor and California’s Karen Bass is running for mayor of Los Angeles.
On the GOP side, nine lawmakers are currently not seeking reelection to the House in 2022.
This report was corrected to accurately reflect Rep. Mike Doyle’s age.