23 Republican Retirements and More to Come.
The premature retirements of Hastert and Lott are just a small part of a larger trend.
Yesterday Trent Lott's unexpected resignation from the Senate and Denny Hastert's long overdue one from the House, brought the number of Republicans leaving electoral politics to 17 in the House and 6 in the Senate. The Chairman of the NRCC, right-wing extremist Tom Cole (R-OK) tried to put on a brave face. "I don't hear a drumbeat that 'We're not effective and I don't like it here anymore.'" Maybe he needs to listen more carefully.
But with so many lawmakers -- including a large number from competitive states and districts -- heading for the exits, it's hard not to point to the GOP's newfound minority status in Washington, the turnover in party leadership and the perilous political environment heading into 2008 to explain the exodus.
Chris Cillizza in this morning's Washington Post thinks it's no exaggeration to say Republicans find themselves in serious danger of falling deeper into the minority in both houses. He points out how retirements seem to be throwing Republican held seats in New Mexico, Virginia and Colorado to Democrats Tom Udall, Mark Warner and Mark Udall, respectively.
"It's in the House, however," according to Cillizza., "where surprise retirements in swing districts have badly crippled Republican attempts to bounce back from 2006. And it's in the House where there are likely to be even more retirements. Currently on Republican retirement watch are John Doolittle (CA), Bill Young (FL), Tom Davis (VA), and Roscoe Bartlett (MD). And although increasingly unstable Chris Shays (CT) says he's not retiring (as of this week), he's become so bizarre that you never know what to expect from him.
And there is still a chance for some surprises out of New York, Florida and... well an indictment is likely to trigger a retirement (or two) in Alaska.