The U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 7, 2021.
Joshua Roberts | Reuters
House Democrats will head into next year’s midterm elections trying to hold onto their majority in the chamber as several longtime members say they plan to step down.
On Monday, veteran Reps. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., and David Price, D-N.C., announced they would not run for another term in Congress. Their departures mean at least seven House Democrats will not seek reelection in 2022, compared with at least three Republicans, according to an NBC News tally.
The retirements come as Democrats face the prospect of losing House control in the midterms. They currently hold a slim 220-212 majority in the chamber. As the party of President Joe Biden, Democrats will have to overcome historical trends to keep their majority: the White House incumbent’s party usually loses seats in Congress during midterms.
Democrats will try to extend their unified but narrow control of the White House, Senate and House for another two years. Republicans aim to leverage history, new congressional district maps and Biden’s lackluster approval rating to win back control of Congress.
Retirements can not only signal pessimism about a party’s ability to keep its majority, but also can make districts without incumbents harder to retain.
Many of the Democrats who will not seek reelection represent areas where Republicans could have a tough time winning in 2022. Doyle represents Pennsylvania’s 18th District, a Pittsburgh-based seat that Biden won by about 30 percentage points last year, according to Daily Kos data.
The president also carried Price’s Durham, N.C.-area 4th District by more than 30 percentage points in 2020. House Budget Committee Chair John Yarmuth — a longtime Kentucky Democrat who announced his retirement last week — will leave behind the Louisville-based 3rd District that Biden won by about 22 percentage points last year.
Other seats left open by Democrats appear to be better pickup opportunities for the GOP. Former President Donald Trump won outgoing Democratic Rep. Ron Kind’s 3rd District in Wisconsin by about 5 percentage points last year.
Trump also carried Illinois’ 17th District, now held by departing Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos.
Doyle has been in Congress since 1995. In announcing his retirement Monday, the 68-year-old said “the time has come to pass the torch to the next generation.” Doyle said he wanted to spend more time with his family and noted that redistricting played into his decision.
States are drawing new congressional district maps after completion of the 2020 Census. While changes to Doyle’s seat may not make it harder for Democrats to win, changes to other districts will force some lawmakers to run in environments less friendly to their party.
Price, 81, first spent 1987 to 1995 in the House. After losing a reelection bid in 1994, he won the 4th District back two years later and has represented it in Congress since 1997.
Price said that during the rest of his term he would “continue fighting for the just and inclusive country we believe in.”
The midterms will be the first nationwide congressional elections since a mob of Trump supporters overran the Capitol while lawmakers counted Biden’s election victory on Jan. 6. After insurrectionists spurred by Trump’s false claims that he was cheated out of a second term were expelled from the building, 139 House Republicans and eight GOP senators voted to object to tallying at least one state’s certified presidential results.