Democrats are becoming more pessimistic about their prospects for next year’s midterm elections amid President BidenJoe Biden Biden Reaffirms His Commitment To Taiwan’s ‘One China’ Policy In Call With Xi Biden Raises Human Rights With China’s Xi During Four-Hour Biden Meeting, Xi Holds ‘Candid’ Discussion Amid Highs tensions MORELow approval ratings, nagging financial woes, and the GOP’s advantages in the redistricting process.
Its. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph Leahy Leahy’s Retirement Shakes Vermont Politics 12:30 PM Report From The Hill – Presented By Facebook – Trump Officials Face Legal Consequences For Defying Subpoenas Senator Patrick Leahy Says He Will Not Seek Re-election ANY MORE(D-Vt.) Monday’s announcement that he will be retiring has thrown another spotlight on growing uncertainty about whether Democrats will be able to maintain control of the Senate and House.
Leahy is 81 years old, has served eight terms and said it was time for a new generation to represent Vermont.
“Time to put down the deck. It’s time to pass the torch to the next Vermont, ”he said at a news conference at the Vermont State House.
His seat is also unlikely to be a big Republican target given Vermont’s Democratic leanings.
Yet it was easy to see how the prospect of losing the majority of the Senate in a chamber now 50% split between the parties could be a factor in a veteran senator deciding to hang him.
There is also the growing possibility that Republicans will take over the House, which means that the chances of Democrats passing new laws will be drastically reduced.
Leahy is far from the first Democrat to announce his retirement.
There are already three House Democrats expected to go for re-election next year, the Representatives. Mike doyleMichael (Mike) F. Doyle Democrats brace for a flood of retirements after Virginia defeat Pennsylvania Republican becomes latest groundbreaking COVID-19 case in House of Congress passes bills to secure infrastructure telecommunications MORE (Pennsylvania.), David PriceDavid Eugene Price Democrats brace for retirement flood after Virginia defeat North Carolina legislature passes new map of US House of Representatives Sudden danger to democracy was an inside job MORE (NC) and John yarmuthJohn Allen Yarmuth Fighting Biden’s Dangerous Redevelopment by the Federal Reserve Democrats Prepare for a Barrage of Retirements After Virginia Defeat The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by ExxonMobil – House sprints for Build Back Better, Infrastructure vote today MORE (Ky.), Have announced that they will not search for new terms.
“It definitely looks like something changed in August,” Kyle Kondik, an analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, who pointed to Biden’s steep drop in approval ratings after the United States’ disorderly withdrawal from Afghanistan, to the which he called “a catalyst”. for the changing political environment.
The defeat of the Democrats in the November gubernatorial race in Virginia, and a close loss in New Jersey, has also dampened the spirits of the Democrats.
“There are many other problems that have come up this summer. COVID is not gone, inflation, gas prices. The public is in a bad mood and the results of two weeks ago were not good for the Democrats, “Kondik added.
Kondik says no one can know for sure all the reasons Leahy decided to resign at a time when 81 is not too old to hold a position in Washington. But he said the move will be interpreted as a decrease in confidence among Democrats about their ability to hold on to power.
“When senior members retire, it is interpreted as an unspoken acknowledgment of the environment,” he said. “There have been some senior Democrats in the House who have retired and who also, like Leahy, probably would have easily won reelection had they run again.”
“It could be high-level members who were undecided and were like, ‘Wow, it seems increasingly possible that Republicans can be a majority in both the House and Senate and I really want to serve in the minority again? ”He added.
Democratic strategists acknowledge that the political environment is not looking good at the moment, but say it is time to reverse the low numbers from Biden’s polls, which were a headwind for candidates in Virginia and New Jersey earlier this year. month.
Democrats got good news Monday as lawmakers from both parties attended a signing ceremony for the bipartisan infrastructure bill that represents a significant victory for Biden.
“If you look at all the polls, we are not in the best shape. Hopefully things change before next year’s midterm elections, ”said Jim Manley, Democratic strategist and former aide to the Senate.
As recently as May, Leahy seemed ready to run for a ninth term. Six months ago, he asked his colleagues to support his reelection campaign if he decided to go ahead with one.
He held a fundraiser in May and raised $ 300,000 for his campaign account during the first quarter of the year.
Marcelle Leahy began treatment for a chronic form of leukemia earlier this year, and that may have influenced her husband’s decision to leave Congress.
Some Democratic senators were shocked by the Leahy news.
“It always amazes me when someone retires, but I think their situation is such that it has given them many wonderful years, and you know about his wife,” the Senator said. Mazie hironoMazie Keiko HironoSanders backs Kaiser Permanente workers ahead of Monday’s strike Democrats struggle to move forward after election setbacks Democrats step up obstructionist talks following voting rights setback MORE (D-Hawaii).
Steven S. Smith, a political science professor at Washington University in St. Louis, said it’s perfectly reasonable for a senator to decide to move on after serving more than 45 years in the Senate.
“Here’s a guy who retires more or less when he should, when he’s in his 80s, he’s still reasonably healthy and has other things he wants to do with his life,” he said. “I can’t help but think that’s the main consideration.”
But Smith noted that Leahy’s ability to maintain her position as president pro tempore of the Senate, which comes with many perks, including the second-largest security detail in Congress and additional office space on Capitol Hill, is uncertain.
“Whether he’s counting on the Senate to change or not, I’m not sure,” he said. “The Senate, anyone would say, is at stake. Maybe a 50-50 proposal. “
Smith also said there is a “greater than 50-50 chance” that the House will change, meaning that the ability of Democrats to pass landmark legislation after 2023 is in grave jeopardy.
He said that if Republicans are in the majority after 2022, “it would affect the legislative record that the next Congress could develop and the role Leahy could play in that process.”
“And besides, being in Congress right now is more or less unpleasant. It is not the case that surprising things can be achieved by working with the other party, ”he added.
The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC) released a statement stating that Republicans have no chance of filling Leahy’s vacant seat next year.
“Vermont is a blue state that has not elected a Republican to statewide federal office in over 20 years and Democrats hope to win this Senate seat in 2022,” said DSCC Chairman Gary PetersGary PetersSen. Patrick Leahy Says He Will Not Seek Re-election Hillicon Valley – The Race to Report Cyber Violations Senators Move to Include a 72-Hour Timeline for Reporting Cyber Incidents in Defense Bill MORE (Mich.) Said in a statement.
However, a senior aide to the GOP said that “it is a sign of the times” and of the favorable political environment for Republicans that the DSCC even had to issue a statement insisting that there is no possibility of Leahy’s seat. change into what has been a reliable blue state. .