House Speaker Nancy Pelosi outlined her plan to expand Democrat control in Congress months ago, and it’s clear the scheme is coming to fruition.
Since April, Pelosi has repeatedly explained that she plans to maintain and expand control of the lower chamber by creating a political environment that’s so toxic it will push Republican incumbents into early retirement.
As Pelosi’s allies in the House have continued investigations into all aspects of the president’s life, more than a dozen GOP representatives have opted out of 2020, with more expected in the coming weeks. Several are in very competitive districts Democrats hope to flip in 2020, which is exactly as Pelosi predicted this spring.
“You want to talk politics? I intend to have this election won by this November,” the 79-year-old speaker told students at the London School of Economics and Political Science in April, “because by a year in advance, that’s when people decide if they’re going to run for office.”
Essentially, the plan is to focus on demonizing Trump to drive down his poll numbers, sending a message that Democrats are waging an all-out war in 2020 that will be very nasty and expensive for incumbent Republicans.
“So we want the message to be clear, we will retain the majority, we will grow the majority,” Pelosi said. “So if you were a Republican who might be thinking about running for Congress, you have to look at the strength of the person you want to unseat.
“And if you’re a member of Congress and you’re a Republican and were deciding you might be ready for retirement, you may have to remember it’s going to cost you a lot of money to win, or to lose. But if you win, you’ll be serving in the minority. Maybe you’d like to go do something else,” she said.
It seems Republicans are getting the message loud and clear.
NPR reported Thursday “retirements have begun mounting for House Republicans more than a year ahead of the 2020 elections, a sign that optimism about flipping back control of the chamber is lacking.”
The recent retirements include Texas Rep. Will Hurd, the only black Republican in the House, as well as his colleagues from the Lone Star State, Reps. Pete Olson and Kenny Marchant and Mike Conaway. There’s also Indiana Rep. Susan Brooks and Alabama Rep. Martha Roby, who have also decided not to pursue re-election.
Others include Georgia Congressman Rob Woodall, Michigan Rep. Paul Mitchell, and Rob Bishop in Utah, according to the news site.
Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino already resigned with a Republican replacement, and two others – Rep. Bradley Byrne in Alabama and Rep. Greg Gianforte of Montana – are running for the senate and governorship, respectively, according to The Washington Post.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy attributed some of the exodus to party rules that will cost some their top committee posts, and he predicted Trump’s name on the ballot will help Republicans to motivate voters in 2020.
“There’s a very clear plan to win the majority, and it has not changed based upon retirements,” McCarthy told the Post. “And there will be others who retire, and it will not change in that course either … When you look at where the map is currently today and where these districts naturally perform, Republicans will gain.”
Pelosi sees things much differently.
“I’ve always said I can almost predict how well we will do in an election one year in advance because one year in advance is where you see where the present of the party is,” Pelosi said at another event in April, according to Roll Call. “If he’s still in the 40s, they have a big problem.”
“It’s really important for the Republicans in Congress to know that if they’re thinking about running, and the president’s numbers are not so great,” she continued. “It’s going to cost them a lot of money and even if they win, they’ll be serving in the minority. How’s that for a motivator?”
Several polls in August show between 41 and 46 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s job performance, while the Real Clear Politics average for polls since July 25 is 43 percent.