How to Read Reichert’s Retirement

He leaves open a competitive seat, something Democrats need in their quest for the majority.

Bill Bryant, center, the Republican candidate for Washington state Governor, shares a laugh with U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, D-Wash., left, Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, following a get-out-the-vote rally at a campaign office in Issaquah, Wash. More than a million Washingtonians have already cast their ballots in advance of Tuesday's election, as voters decide on federal and state races, as well as ballot initiatives.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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Kyle Trygstad
Sept. 7, 2017, 10:32 a.m.

A couple of factors indicate that the retirement announcement Wednesday by Republican Rep. Dave Reichert of Washington could be a sign of things to come.

Not only is the party in the White House historically disadvantaged in midterms, which could lead some to step aside, but President Trump’s actions Wednesday—publicly complimenting vulnerable Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp on her home turf, and siding with Democratic leadership over his own party in an Oval Office negotiation—lay bare the frustrations of congressional Republicans.

But as Nathan Gonzales noted in Roll Call earlier this week, we were already likely to see plenty more retirements, regardless of motives, simply given the average of 22 in every Congress over the last four decades. Reichert made it six so far, and Democrats hope the rest are in similarly swingy districts.

Reichert’s retirement is reminiscent of December 2009, when Rep. Brian Baird, a moderate from Washington’s 3rd District, became the third Democrat in a competitive seat in as many weeks to announce his retirement.

We know how that cycle went, but it’s still too early to see exactly where this one is headed.

Kyle Trygstad


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