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Two more House Democrats – Reps. Jim Langevin of Rhode Island and Jerry McNerney of California – announced on Tuesday that they won’t seek reelection in this year’s midterm elections.
The announcements from the two lawmakers brings to 28 the number of Democrats in the chamber who are retiring after the current term or seeking another elective office in November
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Democrats hope to defend their razor-thin majority in the House in the midterms, amid a rough political climate. The GOP needs a net gain of just five seats in the 435-member chamber next year to regain the House majority it lost to the Democrats in the 2018 elections.
Langevin, the first quadriplegic to serve in Congress, said in a video statement that “after serving the people of Rhode Island for over 36 years, including 11 terms and nearly 22 years in Congress, today I am announcing that I will not be a candidate for elective office this November.”
“It’s time, time for me to chart a new course which I hope will keep me closer to home and allow me to spend more time with family and friends,” he emphasized.
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The 57-year-old Langevin represents Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District, a solidly blue district which covers the western part of the southern New England state. He comfortably won reelection in 2020 by 16 points.
The 70-year-old McNerney – a Stockton, California Democrat who since 2007 has represented a heavily blue district in the state’s vast Central Valley – took to Twitter to announce “that I will not seek reelection in California’s newly created 9th Congressional District.”
Republicans have history on their side heading into the midterms. On average the party that wins the White House in a presidential election loses more than 25 House seats in the ensuing midterm election.
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And major setbacks the past two months for President Biden and congressional Democrats in their push to pass sweeping social spending and election reform bills, along with the five-month downward spiral of the president’s poll numbers, is also doing House Democrats no favors as try to keep the majority in November.
House retirements are often seen as an early barometer of things to come in the midterms. The last time the House flipped, amid a blue wave in the 2018 midterms, there were 23 GOP retirements compared to just 10 among House Democrats. Competitive seats become even more vulnerable without a well-known incumbent with a healthy war chest running for reelection.