Many Dems Expected to Retire — Including Pelosi — if They Lose the House
It's not just Pelosi, but a bunch of committee chairs.
As Nancy Pelosi goes, so might a generation of her colleagues.Apparently spending time with the grandkids takes a back seat to her unquenchable thirst for power and flights on military jets with top shelf liquor.
If Democrats lose control of the House of Representatives next week, as most political observers expect, there is a good chance that the House Speaker will opt to spend time with her eight grandchildren rather than toil in the relative obscurity of the minority.
Pelosi is more likely to leave gracefully, trading the red-eye slog for the pleasant commute between her San Francisco and Napa homes, and leaving the caucus in the hands of majority leader Steny Hoyer, who has been chafing in her shadow for decades.Of course, Hoyer is no lock to even win himself.
Other Democrats are sure to follow Pelosi out of the Capitol. After the GOP lost the House in 2006, 27 Republicans called it quits. But in the case of Pelosi's Democratic cloakroom, the exodus could be deeper: five of the 20 current committee chairmen are her allies from California. Without their champion, some veterans such as Education and Labor Committee chairman George Miller, who has been in Congress since 1975, may be inclined to leave.It would be even better to just defeat them and leave them no choice.
Others are older — Rules Committee chair Louise Slaughter and Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers, both 81, know that life in the minority holds less appeal for octogenarians. And, in any case, it might be time for some fresh blood. The average age of Democratic House chairs is nearly 70, while top Republicans are, on average, a decade younger — thanks, in part, to the 2006 spate of retirements. Democratic chairs have spent an average of 13.5 terms, or 27 years, in office, compared to Republicans who average 9.5 terms, or 19 years, in office.I was never crazy about the self-imposed six year term limits a lot of Republicans opted for. But seriously, so many of these people have spent the bulk of their lives living on the public dime.
Two chairmen have already retired: Appropriations Committee chief David Obey of Wisconsin and Tennessee's Bart Gordon, the top Dem on the Science and Technology Committee. Both seats look likely to fall into GOP hands next week.
Another five chairmen are endangered. Financial Services Committee chairman Barney Frank of Massachusetts last week loaned his campaign $200,000 as his race unexpectedly tightened. A recent poll showed Budget Committee chairman John Spratt trailing by 10 points in his South Carolina district. And Armed Services Committee chairman Ike Skelton, Transportation Committee chairman Jim Oberstar and Natural Resources Committee chairman Nick Rahall are all in the toughest races of their careers.
All told, half or more of the top Democrats on the House's 20 committees might lose, quit or retire.