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 »
How Many VIPs Were the Secret Service Protecting in Philly Last Night?
54 minutes ago

Seven, according to an official Secret Service tweet.

Candidates’ Code Names Revealed
1 hours ago

The Clintons will retain their Secret Service "code names from the last time they lived in the White House. Hillary Clinton is EVERGREEN and Bill ClintonEAGLE. Donald Trump is MOGUL, according to reports, and Melania Trump MUSE. The vice presidents get code names, too: Mike Pence is HOOSIER—a little on the nose—and his wife HUMMINGBIRD. Tim Kaine is DAREDEVIL, somewhat ambitiously. His wife's? To be determined."

GSA: Feds’ Uber Rides Are Now OK
2 hours ago

"The Obama administration issued guidance on Wednesday clarifying federal agencies should reimburse employees who use ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft for any travel on official business, effective immediately. The General Services Administration issued a bulletin on the Federal Travel Regulation, cementing a policy many—but not all—agencies had already installed."

Catholics, Highly Educated Moving Toward Dems
2 hours ago

Catholics who attend mass at least weekly have increased their support of the Democratic nominee by 22 points, relative to 2012, when devout Catholics backed Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, a Morning Consult poll shows that those voters with advanced degrees prefer Hillary Clinton, 51%-34%. Which, we suppose, makes the ideal Clinton voter a Catholic with a PhD in divinity.

North Korea: U.S. Has Effectively Declared War
3 hours ago

"North Korea's top diplomat for U.S. affairs told The Associated Press on Thursday that Washington ... effectively declared war by putting leader Kim Jong Un on its list of sanctioned individuals, and said a vicious showdown could erupt if the U.S. and South Korea hold annual war games as planned next month." Han Song Ryol said: "The United States has crossed the red line in our showdown. We regard this thrice-cursed crime as a declaration of war."