Capitol Exodus: Two More Democrats Will Exit Congress

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

ABC News’ John Parkinson and Elizabeth Hartfield report:

As members of Congress returned to their districts last week to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday, two Democrats in the House of Representatives decided this weekend that they’d prefer spending more time at home.

Today, Rep. Barney Frank, a 16-term Democrat from Massachusetts, announced that he will not seek a 17 th term in the House. On Saturday, Rep. Charles Gonzalez, a seven-term Democrat from Texas, decided to hang it up too.

But with these two retirements from historically dark blue Democratic districts, neither side is any closer to a majority. Even Republican sources concede Frank leaves “a pretty solid [Democrat] seat” that President Obama won with 61 percent of the vote in 2008, and Sen.  John Kerry won with 62 percent in 2004.

Republicans currently hold a 242-192 advantage in the 435-seat House of Representatives. One vacancy, created by the resignation of Oregon Democrat David Wu, leaves the magic number at 26 for Democrats to take back the gavel for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

In the 2006 midterm elections, when a Democratic wave propelled Pelosi to the speakership, 22 Republicans saw the writing on the wall and retired.

While it’s still almost a year until the 2012 midterm election, so far 17 Democrats have notified Pelosi that they will not be on the ballot to defend their congressional seats next November.

Democrats Retiring:

Dan Boren (D-Okla.) Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) Barney Frank (D-Mass.) Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas) Dale Kildee (D-Mich.) John Olver (D-Mass.) Mike Ross (D-Ark.) Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.)

Democrats running for other office:

Bob Filner (D-Calif.) Jay Inslee (D-Wash.)

Democrats running for Senate:

Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.)

Republicans running for other office:

Mike Pence (R-Ind.) Ron Paul (R-Texas)* Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)*

Republicans running for Senate:

Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) Todd Akin (R-Missouri) Connie Mack IV (R-Fla.) Rick Berg (R-N.D.)

Though the two most recently announced retirees, Frank and Gonzalez, hail from Democratic strongholds, it’s worth noting that this is not the case for all of the departing House Dems.

In Oklahoma for example, Democratic Rep. Dan Boren, who represents the states’ second district, will retire. The district has gone red in the past three Presidential elections. Most recently, McCain defeated Obama 66 percent-34 percent in 2008.

In Indiana, House Democrat Joe Donnelly is vacating his seat to run for Senate. In 2010 Donnelly narrowly defeated Republican challenger Jackie Walorski, 48.2 percent to Walorski’s 46.8. The district went blue for Obama in 2008, but George W. Bush carried the district in 2000 and again in 2004.

The nine House Democrats who have announced their retirement have a combined 88 terms between then, totaling 176 years of service to the United States House of Representatives.

*Rep. Ron Paul is currently running for president and has announced he will retire at the end of the 2012 cycle.

*Rep. Michele Bachmann is currently running for president and has not announced her plans beyond the Republican primaries. 


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