Exodus of House Moderates Continues With Latest Democratic Retirement

New Yorker Bill Owens’s departure gives Republicans a strong pickup opportunity.

WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 06:  U.S. Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY) (L) speaks to the media as (2nd L to R) Owens' granddaughter Caroline Antonipillai, wife Jane and daughter Jenna look on during a mock swearing in November 6, 2009 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Owens won the special election for seat that was vacated by John McHugh.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Bill Owens;Jane Owens;Jenna Owens;Caroline Antonipillai
National Journal
Scott Bland
Jan. 14, 2014, 7:47 a.m.

Demo­crat­ic Rep. Bill Owens an­nounced Tues­day that he won’t seek reelec­tion in 2014, the latest in a string of re­cent re­tire­ments by House mod­er­ates. His de­cision will will leave Demo­crats de­fend­ing a vul­ner­able House seat in up­state New York this fall.

Owens, who is serving just his second full term after com­ing to Con­gress via a spe­cial elec­tion in 2009, said in a state­ment: “After care­ful thought and con­sid­er­a­tion, I have de­cided not to seek reelec­tion for the 21st Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict this Novem­ber…. It is time for me to un­der­take new en­deavors and spend more time with my fam­ily.”

But the “re­lated news” sec­tion of Owens’s web­site, be­low his re­tire­ment an­nounce­ment, might be more telling. The next news re­lease lis­ted is titled, “Owens Frus­trated With Stalled Farm Bill Ne­go­ti­ations.” A hand­ful of oth­er mod­er­ates from both parties have also an­nounced re­tire­ments in the past few months, with many cit­ing con­gres­sion­al grid­lock as part of their im­petus for get­ting out of the le­gis­lat­ing game. Ac­cord­ing to Na­tion­al Journ­al‘s 2012 vote rat­ings, Owens was the 10th-most con­ser­vat­ive Demo­crat from that year still in the House. Two oth­er con­ser­vat­ive Demo­crats (Reps. Jim Math­eson of Utah and Mike McIntyre of North Car­o­lina) have already an­nounced their re­tire­ments, mak­ing their seats likely Re­pub­lic­an pickups in the 2014 elec­tions.

Owens was also fa­cing a tough reelec­tion in a battle­ground dis­trict, with Re­pub­lic­ans tout­ing former Bush of­fi­cial Elise Stefanik as one of their stronger re­cruits this cycle. Pres­id­ent Obama car­ried the 21st Dis­trict with 52 per­cent of the area’s votes in both 2008 and 2012, but it was a long­time Re­pub­lic­an seat, rep­res­en­ted by cur­rent Sec­ret­ary of the Army John McHugh, be­fore Owens cap­tured it in 2009. Both that year and in 2010, Owens won des­pite get­ting only 48 per­cent of the vote, thanks to third-party can­did­a­cies split­ting the vote.

A slate of mod­er­ate Re­pub­lic­ans, in­clud­ing Reps. Jon Run­yan of New Jer­sey, Tom Lath­am of Iowa, Frank Wolf of Vir­gin­ia, and Jim Ger­lach of Pennsylvania, will also re­tire in 2014, spark­ing com­pet­it­ive elec­tion races. 

What We're Following See More »
WHITE HOUSE URGING QUICK SENATE ACTION
John King Gets Nod for Education Secretary
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

President Obama has said he’ll nominate John King to fill out the last few months of Obama’s presidency as Secretary of Education. King has been in an acting secretary role since Arne Duncan stepped down in December. The White House is pressuring the Senate to act quickly on the nomination.

Source:
162,000 SIGNATURES SO FAR
Sanders Supporters Begin to Petition Superdelegates
3 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Bernie Sanders supporters aren’t taking this whole superdelegate thing lying down. Despite a tie a blowout win against Hillary Clinton, Sanders trails her by some 350 delegates in the overall count, thanks mostly to superdelegates pledging to support her. His backers have taken to creating a MoveOn.org petition to pressure the superdelegates to be flexible. It reads: “Commit to honoring the voters—let everyone know that you won’t allow your vote to defeat our votes. Announce that in the event of a close race, you’ll align yourself with regular voters—not party elites.” So far it’s attracted 162,000 signatures. Related: At FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver notes that in 2008, Clinton had a 154-50 superdelegate advantage over President Obama when New Hampshire voted. But “by the time Clinton ended her campaign on June 7, 2008, Obama had nearly a 2-to-1 superdelegate advantage over her,” owing in part to many pledged delegates who switched their support to Obama.

Source:
REGULAR ORDER
Ryan Pitching the Importance of Passing a Budget Today
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

House Speaker Paul Ryan today is trying to convince his large but divided conference that they need to pass a budget under regular order. “Conservatives are revolting against higher top-line spending levels negotiated last fall by President Obama and Ryan’s predecessor, then-Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). GOP centrists are digging in on the other side, pledging to kill any budget that deviates from the two-year, bipartisan budget deal.” Ryan’s three options are to lower the budget numbers to appease the Freedom Caucus, “deem” a budget and move on to the appropriations process, or “preserve Obama-Boehner levels, but seek savings elsewhere.”

Source:
HEADED TO PRESIDENT’S DESK
Trade Bill Would Ban Imports Made with Slave Labor
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

“A bill headed for President Barack Obama this week includes a provision that would ban U.S. imports of fish caught by slaves in Southeast Asia, gold mined by children in Africa and garments sewn by abused women in Bangladesh, closing a loophole in an 85-year-old tariff law.” The Senate approved the bill, which would also ban Internet taxes and overhaul trade laws, by a vote of 75-20. It now goes to President Obama.

Source:
TRUMP UP TO 44%
Sanders Closes to Within Seven Nationally in New Poll
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

Bernie Sanders has closed to within seven points of Hillary Clinton in a new Morning Consult survey. Clinton leads 46%-39%. Consistent with the New Hampshire voting results, Clinton does best with retirees, while Sanders leads by 20 percentage points among those under 30. On the Republican side, Donald Trump is far ahead with 44% support. Trailing by a huge margin are Ted Cruz (17%), Ben Carson (10%) and Marco Rubio (10%).

Source:
×