Republicans have returned from holiday break only to watch more of their colleagues conclude that serving in the once-venerable House is no longer worth the headaches.
On Tuesday Congressmen Larry Bucshon (R-IN) became the latest to announce his retirement, writing in a statement obtained by Axios, “It became clear to me over the Christmas holiday … that the time has come to bring my season in public service to a conclusion.”
Rep. Buschon’s retirement follows earlier announcements by Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MI) and Doug Lamborn (R-CO), both of whom announced their decisions last week. Other colleagues leaving for new opportunities include Rep. John Curtis (R-UT), who will be chasing the Senate seat being vacated by Mitt Romney (R-UT), and Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH), who is resigning to take the position of president of Youngstown State University. Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will cut his time in Congress short, departing later this month.
A source close to the House GOP told Axios that several factors contributed to the recent spate of retirements. First, spending an extended recess in the comforts of home reminded members about the possibilities beyond an acrimonious Washington. Second, all retirements came shortly before the candidacy filing deadline, allowing GOP leadership to help orchestrate the election of their preferred replacements.
All five congressmen hold seats that are solidly Republican, offering grassroots activists the opportunity to elevate substantially more conservative members.
The future of the House is very much up for speculation ahead of the November elections, where Republicans hope to maintain or expand on their small majority. Democrats are facing around a dozen resignations within their ranks, another sign that additional money will be spent on both sides to influence primary elections in safe seats.
Old stalwarts of the Republican Party have suddenly found the ground beneath their feet shifting with the tectonic shifts made by former President Donald Trump and his reorientation of party activism. His lead in the polls has drawn House GOP leadership fully into his orbit with Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), and Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) all announcing their endorsements in recent months.