The GOP is hoping it’ll win back the House next year, but the steady stream of members fleeing the House isn’t exactly a sign of great confidence.
Rep. Will Hurd, fresh off an election in which he just barely beat Democrat Gina Ortiz-Jones, announced late Thursday that he wouldn’t run for re-election in his West Texas congressional district after three terms in Congress. The close race has clearly affected Hurd in the months since the Democrats took over the House; although Hurd was a reliable Republican vote in the first two years of Trump’s term, he’s broken with the president on a number of key votes this year, including voting to condemn Trump’s racist comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar and the Squad. (Hurd is also just one of two black Republican members of Congress, the other being South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott.)
But the problem goes deeper than Hurd. According to the House’s “casualty list,” Hurd is the ninth Republican House member to announce his retirement so far this year, as opposed to just two on the Democratic side. While the majority have relatively safe seats—Rep. Mike Conaway represents one of the most conservative districts in the whole country—the list includes a bunch of Republicans in swing districts, such as Rep. Rob Woodall of Georgia, who also won his race by less than 500 votes, and Texas Rep. Pete Olson, who won re-election by five points.
Apart from this making the Republicans look really shook about their chances of taking the House back, it’s also an indication that some of them are maybe getting sick of carrying water for a president who was a national joke when they first came into office and is now the most powerful person in the world, despite the fact that he’s only gotten progressively dumber in that time. Why stick around and get yelled at in the grocery store by your angry constituents when there’s sweet lobbyist cash to make?
Before you congratulate these people for growing a spine, please note that they have been perfectly happy to carry Trump’s water up until now, and that Hurd said he would vote for Trump in 2020 as recently as last Sunday. But if you want a view of what’s going to replace them, just imagine this: someone who looks around at the state of things right now, and decides that this is an optimal time to run for elected office as a Republican.