The exodus of Republican members of the House of Representatives and the Senate continues, with Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-Virginia) announcing his retirement.
In a public statement, Rep. Goodlatte cited his tenure as the House Judiciary Committee Chairman ending in December of next year as a “natural stepping-off point,” saying he wanted to spend more time with his family. However, Politico noted that as recently as four months ago, Goodlatte’s staff brushed off rumors of his possible retirement.
While it may appear innocuous on its own, the timing of Goodlatte’s sudden announcement to not seek reelection is worth paying attention to, as it comes just days after Virginia Republicans lost resoundingly in state legislative races and the high-profile gubernatorial race. Goodlatte, who has held office for more than two decades, is the 13th Republican member of Congress this year to announce that he won’t be seeking another term, along with 10 members of the House and 2 members of the Senate.
Other Republican officials not seeking another term include U.S. Senators Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) and Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), both of whom cited the Republican Party’s enabling of President Trump as the primary reason. The ten House members retiring from office include several senior members of the chamber and chairmen of committees. Reps. Frank LoBiondo (R-New Jersey), Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Dave Trott (R-Michigan), Ted Poe (R-Texas), Dave Reicher (R-Washington), John Duncan (R-Tennessee), John Duncan Jr. (R-Tennessee), Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida).
Democrats only need a net gain of 24 seats to retake the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections. The wave of Republican retirements, along with wall-to-wall Republican losses in state and local elections this week makes that much more likely to happen.
Matthew P. Robbins is a freelance economics contributor covering wages, budgets, and taxes. He lives in Chicago, Illinois with his husband and two cats.