Rep. Greg Walden Becomes 22nd House Republican To Forgo Reelection In 2020
Greg Walden’s decision to not run for reelection puts the number of retiring House Republicans at three times that of Democrats, sparking rumors of another ‘Blue Wave.’
Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, an 11-term lawmaker and the top Republican on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced he will not seek reelection in 2020 on Monday. Walden is the 22nd House Republican to announce they will forgo reelection, compared to just 7 House Democrats, leading analysts to believe the GOP may lack confidence in its ability to retake the House.
“The trend mirrors 2018, when more than two dozen Republicans retired ahead of the midterms, foreshadowing the blue wave that swept in a Democratic majority,” writes the Atlantic’s Russell Berman.
“It’s a familiar dynamic: In 2006, after Democrats won back the House majority for the first time in a dozen years, Republicans saw a high number of retirements in the following term. The departures helped Democrats pick up even more seats in the 2008 election,” Berman continued.
While Greg Walden has staunchly defended Trump during the recent impeachment probe, he split with the president during the border wall government shutdown and in his support for Russian sanctions for meddling in the 2016 election.
Some analysts believe Trump’s divisive rhetoric and policies are contributing to the exodus of GOP lawmakers. Rep. Will Hurd, the only black Republican in the House, retired earlier this year after a “series of racist tweets by the president appeared to crystallize a 2020 electoral strategy of mobilizing the GOP’s white base,” Berman suggests.
Greg Walden played a key role in both trying to defeat Obamacare in 2010 and leading failed efforts to repeal-and-replace the legislation in 2017. He was also “instrumental” in passing bipartisan legislation to fight the opioid epidemic, the Hill reports. He is the only Republican representative from Oregon, a state that has seen fierce partisan tension in recent months.
Walden told Politico in a statement that “the time has come to pursue new challenges and opportunities,” but asserted he was confident he could win reelection.
“Based on recent polling, strong fundraising, and the backing of my wife and family, I am confident I could earn the support of 2nd District voters for another term. I’m also optimistic that a path exists for Republicans to recapture a majority in the House, and that I could return for two more years as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee,” Walden told Politico. “But I also know that for me, the time has come to pursue new challenges and opportunities.”
Some critics suggest that while many exiting House Republicans are aware of Trump’s corruption and mishandling of the office, they are unwilling to stand up to him, unlike Rep. Justin Amash, who has since been targeted for his dissidence.
Amash told CNN that many Republicans “feel trapped in that position” of defending the president during the impeachment inquiry.
“I hear that from my colleagues on the House floor” Amash said. “They wish they weren’t doing this, and frankly I think a lot of the retirements that we hear about as well are just trying to ride out this president and they might think of coming back into public office later on, once this president’s gone.”
“They’ve decided that they’re going to take it all grudgingly — and privately, perhaps, in disgust — but they’re not going to give up the farm,” Al Cardenas, former chairman of the American Conservative Union, told the Washington Post. But, he added, “It’s been piling on, piling on, piling on, and I see defense fatigue on behalf of the Republicans in the Congress.”
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