[guest post by Dana]
Actually, in less than one week these members announced their retirements: Rep. Martha Roby’s (AL), Rep. Paul Mitchell (MI) and Rep. Pete Olson (TX):
Rep. Roby, who won Alabama’s Republican primary runoff in spite of retracting her endorsement of then-candidate Donald Trump after the Access Hollywood tape was made public, will say in a soon-to-be published op-ed:
Over the last nine years, we have put Alabama first and delivered results for the American people, and we are not finished yet. While my name will not be on the ballot in 2020, I remain committed to continuing the fight for Alabama and the people I represent in the Second District until I cast my last vote on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. Until January 2021, I will continue the important work we started over nine years ago.
Rep. Roby’s district is solidly red, and there doesn’t seem to be any concern about that changing.
Rep. Mitchell, who will be stepping down after serving two terms, elaborated on his decision:
The congressman first told Politico that he wants to spend more time with his family, including his 9-year-old son, who has special needs.
But he also said he’s tired of partisan bickering and a lack of legislative progress. “You look at the rhetoric and vitriol, it overwhelms policy, politics becomes the norm,” he told Politico. “Everything’s about politics. Everything’s about an election. And at some point of time, that’s not why I came here.”
… “Rhetoric overwhelms policy and politics consumes much of the oxygen in this city.”
Most recently, Rep. Mitchell, who represents a safely Republican district, was critical of President Trump and his “go back” tweet directed at four Democratic congresswomen:
“We must be better than comments like these,” he tweeted. “I share the political frustrations with some members of the other party, but these comments are beneath leaders.”
In a statement announcing his retirement, Rep. Olson said:
“As someone who has long advocated for policies that put our families first, it’s time for me to take my own advice and be a more consistent presence to help our family.”
“It’s time for another citizen-legislator to take up this mission,” he said. “Not to make a career out of politics, but to help lead in the cause of empowering our people, defending our liberties, and making sure America remains the greatest nation in history.”
Rep. Olson was also critical of the President and his recent inflammatory tweets:
The Tweet President Trump posted over the weekend about fellow Members of Congress are not reflective of the values of the 1,000,000+ people in Texas 22. We are proud to be the most diverse Congressional district in America. I urge our President immediately disavow his comments.
Rep. Olson’s district is a bit trickier. He won the election by a mere 5 points against his 2018 Democratic challenger Sri Preston Kulkarni, who plans to run again in 2020. Rep. Olson’s win was down 19 points from his previous win two years earlier. Though it has been a solidly Republican district, it could become a toss up, given the shift in demographics:
The rapidly growing southwest Houston suburbs are undergoing a rapid demographic shift: the 22nd CD, once held by Tom DeLay, is now just 40 percent white (down from 45 percent in 2010) and voted for President Trump by just 52 percent to 44 percent, a third of Mitt Romney’s 25 point margin in 2012. The district is 26 percent Hispanic, 19 percent Asian and 12 percent black, and 43 percent of adults hold college degrees, among the highest in the state.
Democrats are planning to make Texas a major House battleground in 2020 — and some Republicans are already starting to feel the pressure.
Of course, behind the announcements comes speculation that runs the gamut from ho-hum, business as usual… to oh no, everyone’s jumping ship! (It must be exhausting to be a GOP member for this reason alone: By now, everyone knows that their hand will be publicly forced by yet another incendiary comment from the President, and they will have to decide whether to risk his political wrath by calling him out on it when it’s obviously the right thing to do, or choose to remain silent, thus showing little to no moral courage.)
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)