Why Are So Many Incumbent Democrats Retiring at the Midterms?

Dr. Munr Kazmir
5 min readOct 15, 2021

Senior House Member John Yarmuth (D-KY) has picked a fine time to leave Congress- and he’s just the latest. Why?

Photo by Mirah Curzer on Unsplash.

Joining Congress from sunny California, one elected member of the U.S. House of Representatives stands ready to wield the coveted Speaker’s Gavel with an iron first, whipping up caucuses for important votes on matters critical to working voters in California and beyond. Post-2022, one elected leader in the House will be ultimately responsible for setting House policies and deciding which executive branch priorities to advance- or not.

And it might not be Nancy Pelosi.

Another Californian Congressperson is hot on the heels of Madame Speaker, with more and more experts predicting an upset come next November.

When did current House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) start to believe Republicans could take back the House at the midterms? When did he first begin to see himself as next term’s Speaker of the House?

It might have been long before, but after Democratic Party incumbent Rep. Ron Kind announced his retirement from Congress in August McCarthy was willing to say so confidently and publicly.

Kind, announcing his decision not to seek another term right after other prominent Democratic retirements like Rep. Cheri Bustos, might have driven a knife through the heart of Democratic Party plans to retain the House majority after the mid-terms.

That was two long, hard months ago.

This week, another domino fell. Chair of the House Budget Committee, Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) announced he also will not seek reelection at the midterms.

That this latest retirement comes, as it must, after prominent House Democrat leaders have presumably done all they can behind the scenes to discourage any such moves by incumbent members makes it all the more noteworthy.

None of the retiring Congressional Democrats have admitted as much, neither have other prominent Democrats announcing unexpected retirements like Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, but there is one obvious reason for this wave of untimely retirements. Officials elected to Congress campaigned hard to get where they are. Squandering the…

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