A spate of retirement announcements has hit both the Democrats and the Republicans, and the bipartisan nature of the exodus has given both parties talking points as to what it all means.
On the Republican side of the aisle, recent retirement announcements have come from Steve Buyer (R-IN), Vern Ehlers (R-MI) and Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL).
Diaz Balart’s brother Mario, also a US Rep from a neighboring district (both in the Miami area), has announced that he will switch to his brother’s, which is the 21st District. That means Mario will be leaving an open seat in the 25th, which goes from the western reaches of the Miami area all the way to the Gulf Coast on the west side of the state.
Democrats have had two recent announcements, from Diane Watson (D-CA) and Patrick Kennedy (D-RI).
All five of these are in districts that are relatively safe for the party losing its incumbent. However, Republicans have pointed out that many of the 14 exiting Democrats are in politically unstable areas and suggest they exited before they could be defeated. Democrats, on the other hand, note that the 18 Republicans heading out the door is a sign that the rank and file is not expecting a big turnaround this election.
Republicans counter that many of the exiting Reps are seeking higher office.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has much more cash to work with than its counterpart, the Republican National Congressional Committee. At the end of 2009, it had $16.7M in the bank, according to the Washington Post. The NRCC had $4.1M as of the end of January 2010.
RBR-TVBR observation: For broadcasters looking at the prospects for a good political season, a retirement generally takes an experienced fund-raiser out of the equation – an incumbent is almost always better financed than a challenger – but it greatly increases the chances for a battleground contest that might draw attention from national political groups.