Yet another leading House Republican has announced their retirement as the GOP and rest of the country gear up for the 2020 elections, in which a considerable amount of policy sway will be on the line. This Monday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s top Republican Rep. Greg Walden (Ore.) announced that he would not be seeking re-election, which brought the total number of retiring Republicans to 19 and counting. He’s the fourth top Republican on a House committee to jump ship ahead of 2020.
He claims that he’s simply ready to move on after spending some two decades in D.C. in roles like his recently concluded tenure as head of the GOP’s official Congressional campaigning arm. Walden did manage victory in the 2018 elections with a comfortable leading margin, but that margin — of some 17 percent — was smaller than some of his previous wins, and with the tide still turning against the GOP, he could have been among the next Republicans to lose.
‘Based on recent polling, strong fundraising, and the backing of my wife and family, I am confident I could earn the support of 2nd District voters for another term. I’m also optimistic that a path exists for Republicans to recapture a majority in the House, and that I could return for two more years as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. But I also know that for me, the time has come to pursue new challenges and opportunities.’
He added that he’s “thankful for the friends I’ve made and the successful work we’ve done together” while in public office.
Thanks to presently in place term limits, Walden could serve for at least two more years at the head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee after 2020, but his claim about a clear path to Republicans winning back control of the House is much more dubious. In “generic ballot” polls asking respondents if they’d prefer to vote for a Democrat or Republican for Congress, Democrats currently hold an about 6.5 percent lead on the national level according to RealClearPolitics.
Congressional Republicans’ chances are being dragged down even further by the incessant unpopularity of President Donald Trump himself, who’s set to be at the top of the 2020 Republican ticket whether they like it or not. Currently, RealClearPolitics reports that Trump is losing to every major Democratic presidential primary contender in polls pitting them against him. Former Vice President Joe Biden has a lead of about 6.7 percent, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has an about 5.7 percent lead, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has a lead of about 6.5 percent.
And that doesn’t even get to impeachment! A majority of the country supports the ongoing impeachment inquiry led by House Democrats, and almost a majority of Americans support taking that inquiry to the point of removing Trump from office. Support for impeachment in general is at about 51 percent, and support for removal is at about 49 percent.
These factors do not paint a favorable picture for the GOP heading into 2020. Other top committee Republicans to quit include the Agriculture Committee’s Mike Conaway (Texas), the Natural Resources Committee’s Rob Bishop (Utah), and the Armed Services Committee’s Mac Thornberry (Texas).