(Politico) Rep. Peter DeFazio, the Oregon firebrand who leads the House’s transportation committee, will step down after 36 years in Congress, spelling more bad news for Democrats in 2022 and taking with him a massive amount of institutional and technical knowledge on infrastructure.
The move comes on the heels of a frustrating few years, in which DeFazio’s dreams of an ambitious, environmentally focused overhaul of the nation’s highway and transit program were sidelined for a major infrastructure bill that went only as far as Republicans in the Senate would agree to go.
His move also comes as Democrats are widely expected to lose the majority in the House in 2022, which is likely to have factored into his decision.
This has been announced within the same week that the news that 18 Democrats will be vacating their seats, paving the way for a Republican majority in 2022:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) ambitions of keeping the Democrat majority in the House of Representatives past the midterm elections next year are dwindling as droves of vulnerable Democrats have announced they are leaving their current seats to either retire or seek a different office instead of fighting in a brutal reelection.
Republicans only need to net five seats to pick up the House majority after the midterms. So far, more than triple the amount of Democrats (18 total) have decided to officially call it quits on the House and have left their seats open for a fight, giving Republicans a chance to gain another seat since House Republicans only need to net five seats to gain the majority and retire Pelosi as Speaker.
Vulnerable Democrats will be facing tough reelection battles across the county, having to campaign in districts that more than likely have different lines after redistricting in addition to their having sided with President Joe Biden on many key partisan issues, as his approval numbers after only holding office for ten months have tanked.
This week, vulnerable Democrat Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY), a loyal confidant of Pelosi, was the 18th House Democrat to announce he will be leaving the House to join the crowded race for New York governor. He will be leaving behind a largely suburban district, which would be tough for Democrats to hold without a strong incumbent. This will potentially give Republicans a pickup seat in New York because Democrats have struggled to find new candidates willing to run for office.
Suozzi joined the ten Democrats who announced they are retiring from public office after the current term, which expires in January 2023: Reps. Filemon Vela (D-TX) and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) announced their retirements in March; Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), the former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairwoman, announced she would not seek reelection in April; scandal-ridden Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) announced he would be retiring in August; House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) announced, along with longtime Reps. David Price (D-NC) and Mike Doyle (D-PA), they would both not be seeking reelection in October; Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) announced, along with longtime Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) and House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairwoman Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) , they would both not seek reelection in November.
Additionally, seven have announced they are running for a different office: Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) announced in April he would be running for the U.S. Senate seat in his home state being vacated by retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH); Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) announced in May he is running for governor in Florida, after previously being governor in the state as a Republican from 2007 to 2011; Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) announced in June she would run for a U.S. Senate seat in the Sunshine State; Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) announced in August, he would be running for the U.S. Senate seat in his home state being vacated by retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA); Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) announced in September her candidacy for the Los Angeles mayoral race to replace outgoing Mayor Eric Garcetti (D); Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD) announced in October he would run for Maryland Attorney General; and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) announced in November he would be running for the U.S. Senate seat in his home state being vacated by retiring Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT).