Thursday, January 31, 2008

Getting Out

Another Republican, Tom Davis of Virginia, has decided not to run for re-election in November. That brings the total of Republicans leaving the house at 28.

With only five Democratic seats opening so far, party strategists and independent analysts say the disparity in open seats — typically the most competitive House fights, as voters oust relatively few incumbents — makes it highly unlikely that Republicans could seize the seats necessary to regain the House. The current House has 199 Republicans and 232 Democrats, with four vacancies to be filled by special elections.

“The open-seat situation is so lopsided as to deny Republicans any chance of taking back the House in 2008,” said David Wasserman, who analyzes House races for The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan publication.

Compounding their problems, Republicans face a worrisome financial gap in comparison to House Democrats. New fund-raising figures to be made public on Thursday will show that the national campaign committee of the House Democrats ended 2007 with $35 million in the bank and $1.3 million in debt. The Republicans’ committee had $5 million in the bank and $2 million in debt.

I’m sure that each member has his or her own specific reason for not running again — including a few who are under criminal investigation — but the sense seems to be that since they’re no longer in charge and the current GOP president has all the appeal and attractiveness of a wet dog at a wedding, they’re finding it’s no fun being there, so they’re packing it in. Gone is all that lofty talk about making things work and getting things done. Or perhaps they’re just seeing the oncoming train wreck in November and would rather forestall a forced retirement rather than a graceful exit beforehand, always explained as “wanting to spend more time with the family.” That’s good news for both the Democrats…and Disney World, where I’m sure all of these family-friendly folks will want to spend more time.