Panicked Republicans break 24-year record for fleeing House ahead of midterms


30 House Republicans are declining to seek re-election. The last time either party even came close to having this many representatives leave was 1994.

House Republicans, already growing nervous about the prospects for retaining the majority this year, just hit a new milestone.

According to NPR, 30 Republican members of Congress have declined to seek re-election in 2018 — 12 of whom are pursuing runs for higher office, and 18 of whom are retiring outright.

The most recent addition to that list came on Wednesday, when the OC Daily reported that embattled California Rep. Darrell Issa — the infamous former Oversight Committee chair who first made Benghazi a household name, and who barely won re-election in 2016 — is expected to announce his retirement as well.

The list does not even include GOP congressmen who resigned without completing their terms, like Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Pennsylvania Rep. Tim Murphy.

This breaks the previous modern-era record for House retirements from a single party, which was when 28 Democrats retired in 1994 ahead of Newt Gingrich’s “Republican Revolution

Many of the retiring Republicans are powerful, long-term incumbents. Seven chairs of House committees, like Texas Rep. Lamar Smith and Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte, are among their number.

Losing the benefit of incumbency can make a huge difference in how competitive a district is. Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen represented such a heavily Democratic district that Republicans are publicly admitting they have no chance of keeping it.

And one of the most recent retirements, California Rep. Ed Royce, was a particularly devastating blow to the GOP, because he outperformed Clinton by 24 points in 2016 and his suburban Orange County district now becomes one of the most vulnerable red seats.

Because many states still have several weeks until their filing deadlines, even more retirements may happen before the battle lines are drawn.

The same trends in the House appear to be developing in the Senate as well, where nearly half of all Republicans up for re-election have decided to step down.

None of this is happening in a vacuum. Trump’s enormous unpopularity, combined with public outrage over the GOP’s failed Obamacare repeal attempts and the tax scam that was forced on the public with no input, have resulted in Republicans trailing the generic congressional ballot by double digits.

As the election this fall takes shape, it does so with an already gutted GOP majority that will struggle to defend itself.