GOP scrambles as disgraced rep retires from yet another competitive district
Democrats just picked up another strong chance to flip a GOP House seat blue this November.
Republican chances of retaining control of the House in November continue to unravel, as a record number of incumbents head for the exits instead of seeking re-election. The party faces a monumental task of trying to defend Donald Trump’s wildly unpopular agenda as a Democratic blue wave swells across the country.
Rep. Pat Meehan (R-PA) just became the latest Republican to bow out, leaving the GOP scrambling to keep control of his moderate suburban district, which voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Meehan’s political career imploded this week when it was revealed that he used taxpayer dollars to settle a sexual harassment claim made by a former, much younger aide who claimed Meehan had pursued her romantically and then turned on her when she entered a relationship with another man.
The RNC refused to abandon Meehan even as he compounded his woes by claiming the staffer had been his soulmate, and that if he was rude to her, it was only because he was so stressed from trying to repeal Obamacare.
“Without Meehan on the ballot, his suburban 7th District seat would likely be a nightmare for the GOP to hold in a special election or in November, based on the current enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans and circumstances surrounding this particular vacancy,” Roll Call reports.
Overall, Democrats need to flip 24 seats to take control of the House. The Cook Political Report currently rates 63 GOP seats as being competitive in November. By comparison, just 21 Democrats seats are deemed competitive, while the rest are safe.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy recently attempted to get Trump to understand the enormity of their predicament during a meeting at Camp David. McCarthy described scenarios to the president ranging from a bloodbath where Republicans lost the House and lost it big, in the words of one official, to an outcome in which they keep control while losing some seats.
To date, more than 30 House Republicans have declined to seek re-election, which represents a modern day record for voluntary exits. Twelve of the 30 are pursuing runs for higher office, and 18 of whom are retiring outright.
The record for House retirements from a single party had been when 28 Democrats retired in 1994 ahead of Newt Gingrichs Republican Revolution,” when the GOP picked up 54 seats in the House.
Among the most vulnerable Republican House members are those who won in 2016 despite their districts voting for Clinton. There are currently 23 such districts.
As for saving Meehan’s GOP seat, recruiting a strong candidate to replace him may prove difficult since the district is a bizarrely shaped, gerrymandering specialty and will likely be redrawn soon to comply with the recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling on the issue.
“Among Pennsylvania Republicans there has been informal talk about ‘sacrificing’ Meehans Delaware County-based district, by making it more heavily Democratic, as they try to comply with a state Supreme Court order to draw up fairer congressional maps,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. “Republicans who control the legislature, the thinking goes, would instead firm up GOP support in neighboring districts where incumbents face tough challenges.”
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