For Nancy Pelosi, in front of every silver lining is a dark cloud.
Her role as Speaker of the House is threatened by the news of two more House Democrats planning to retire, according to Politico.
That brings the number of Democratic representatives leaving the House to 13, as Ballotpedia posted Tuesday. The retirements signal an increasing threat to Pelosi’s already thin six-seat margin of control.
Longtime Reps. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania and David Price of North Carolina are the latest Democrats announcing retirement.
Perhaps to the relief of Pelosi, both Doyle and Price — members of Congress for more than 20 years — are in districts seen as safe for Democrats.
Yet, midterm elections tend to be unfriendly to sitting presidents, no matter who is in office. And given increased anger toward President Joe Biden sparked by vaccine mandates, the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, the crisis at our southern border, rising inflation, increased U.S. weakness on the world stage and growing perceptions of incompetence by the administration, Pelosi probably shouldn’t relax too much.
“I believe the time has come to pass the torch to the next generation,” Doyle said in a news conference announcing his retirement, KDKA-TV reported.
While confident he could win re-election, Doyle also cited redistricting prompted by the 2010 census as a reason for his departure. “The redistricting will change this district, and most likely push it outside of Allegheny County. This is a good transition time for a new member to start in a new district,” he said.
In a statement released to the media, Price said, “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.”
Is it likely Democrats will lose control of the House?
“I am deeply grateful to the people of the Fourth District for making my service possible and for what we have been able to achieve together. And I promise, in the fifteen months remaining and beyond, to continue fighting for the just and inclusive country we believe in.”
Of the 13 House Democrats not running for re-election, eight are retiring from public office, according to Ballotpedia. Three are running for the U.S. Senate, while former Rep. Charlie Crist is running for governor of Florida and former Rep. Karen Bass is running for mayor of Los Angeles.
Representatives are announcing their departure from the House against the backdrop of Democratic efforts to enact the Biden administration’s agenda, including his bloated budget and infrastructure plans.
Recent generic congressional ballot tabulations by FiveThirtyEight as of Tuesday showed Democrats polling at 44.3 percent and Republicans at 41.5 percent.
The FiveThirtyEight compilations of polls tend to show both parties up and down over time, although Republicans recently have been trending upward from 38.7 percent on July 8, while Democrats have slightly declined from 43.6 percent.
Nine Republicans are not seeking re-election to the House, according to Ballotpedia. Three are retiring and four are running for the Senate, while former Rep. Lee Zeldin is running for governor of New York and Rep. Jody Hice is running for Georgia secretary of state.
So far, five senators are retiring, all Republicans.
No doubt of interest to Pelosi and to the Biden administration is the Nov. 2 Virginia gubernatorial election. Pitting former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, against Republican Glenn Youngkin, the vote is seen as a referendum on the administration.
It may also be a confidence vote on current Democratic overreach.
Despite the uncertainty of the Senate, and hoping to regain control and oust Nancy Pelosi, some Republicans might be rubbing their hands together anticipating a House blowout in next year’s midterms.
But given the long amount of time until voting begins for 2022, coupled with what happened in last November’s election, it’s too soon for either side to think of celebrating.