Washington Post reporter Rachael Bade notes that out of the 241 House Republicans who took office along with Donald Trump in January 2017, more than a third of them are gone or will be gone by the end of next year. Michigan's Paul Mitchell is the most recent departure this month, announcing his retirement a few weeks ago.
Mitchell is among a growing list of House Republicans — 18 to date — who have announced plans to resign, retire or run for another office, part of a snowballing exodus that many Republicans fear is imperiling their chances of regaining control of the House in the 2020 elections.
And the problem for the GOP is bigger than retirements. Since Trump’s inauguration, a Washington Post analysis shows, nearly 40 percent of the 241 Republicans who were in office in January 2017 are gone or leaving because of election losses, retirements including former House speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), and some, such as Mitchell, who are simply quitting in disgust.
The vast turnover is a reminder of just how much Trump has remade the GOP — and of the purge of those who dare to oppose him. Former congressman Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) lost his June 2018 primary after challenging Trump; he’s now a Republican presidential candidate. Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), the only Republican to accuse Trump of impeachable acts, quit the GOP in July citing the “partisan death spiral.” His political future is uncertain.
Mitchell, who hails from a Republican-leaning district that Trump won easily in 2016, simply decided he had enough. He has a 9-year-old son with a learning disability, and remaining in a highly polarized Washington just wasn’t worth the trade-off, he said.
“Did any member of this conference expect that their job would start out every morning trying to go through the list of what’s happening in tweets of the day?” Mitchell asked, referring to Trump’s Twitter habits. “We’re not moving forward right now. We are simply thrashing around.”
The retirement numbers are particularly staggering. All told, 41 House Republicans have left national politics or announced they won’t seek reelection in the nearly three years since Trump took office. That dwarfs the 25 Democrats who retired in the first four years of former president Barack Obama’s tenure — and Republicans privately predict this is only the beginning.
Most of the departing Republicans publicly cite family as the reason for leaving. But behind the scenes, Republicans say the trend highlights a greater pessimism about the direction of the party under Trump — and their ability to win back the House next year.
The president has doubled down on an all-base strategy for his reelection campaign, making some Republicans ask whether Trump has put his own political future ahead of the long-term viability of the party of Abraham Lincoln.
“If the party doesn’t start looking like America, there will not be a party in America,” said Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.), the only black House Republican, who announced his retirement in August.
That's staggering. We're talking more than 90 of those same 241 Republicans retired in the last 32 months, lost in 2018, or are retiring before 2021.
More retirements are coming, I guarantee that. They're not getting the House back anytime soon. The Senate remains a much different story, but I expect after 2020 redistricting in favor of Democrats at the state level, you're going to see a very solid House Democratic majority for some time.
Well, unless the Dems find a way to blow it.