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December 06, 2023 10:00 AM UTC

Abandon Ship! McCarthy, McHenry Lead GOP Exodus in 2024

  • by: Colorado Pols

UPDATE: Via Caitlyn Kim of Colorado Public Radio, the National Republican Senatorial Committee needs a proofreader:


Peace out!

Republicans are in risarray.

As The Washington Post reports, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is among a quickly-growing number of Congressional Republicans who are taking their “talents” someplace other than Capitol Hill:

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the former House speaker who was ousted from his position in October in a revolt by hard-right members, will not seek reelection to his congressional seat and will retire from Congress at the end of this month, he announced Wednesday…

…McCarthy’s retirement will bring to an end a 16-year House career that saw him quickly rise through the ranks of Republican leadership, culminating with his stint as speaker. His ouster marked the first time in history that the House voted to remove its leader, a move that threw the chamber into a period of instability.

McCarthy’s departure before the end of his term means California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will have to call a special election to replace him.

McCarthy’s announcement comes one day after Rep. Patrick McHenry, who served as “acting House Speaker” for three weeks in October after McCarthy was ousted from the Speaker’s office, revealed that he would not seek another term in 2024.

McHenry was first elected to Congress in 2004, two years before McCarthy joined Congress. Their departures leave a significant void in House Republican leadership circles, to the extent that any Republican was leading anything inside that caucus. More than three dozen Republicans have already announced that they won’t run again in 2024 — including Colorado Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) — and many more could be lining up at the door.

Former Speaker Pro Tem Patrick McHenry

As political scientist Michael E. Bednarczuk writes for The Hill newspaper:

The scope of retirements and resignations for this Congress could be quite large. Following Rep. Patrick McHenry’s retirement announcement on Tuesday, almost 40 lawmakers have said that they will not seek reelection. Driving this number was a spike in November, when over 10 made this announcement. Such a large number in November is unusual, as such announcements are typically made in the early months of an election year. This suggests that more may be on the horizon, which could make this a substantial retirement class…

…Some are even saying that politics itself is motivating them to leave DC. Rep. Debbie Lesko, in her statement announcing her retirement, stated, “Right now, Washington, D.C. is broken; it is hard to get anything done.”

It would no doubt be exhausting arguing day in and day out with the likes of Freedom Caucus kooks such as Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and Texas Rep. Chip Roy. Retreating Republicans might also be looking ahead to 2025, where it seems increasingly likely that Democrats will retake control of the House. Following the ouster of Republican Rep. George Santos, Republicans only have a three-seat majority in the House, and the math looks bad; there are 14 Republicans currently holding seats in districts that President Biden carried in 2020.

The rush of retirements will also likely impact how the House functions through 2024. Back to “The Hill”:

…untethered from the electorate since they are no longer up for reelection, these members may change have they behave. They will likely not be as engaged; scholars have found that these members decrease their participation in Congress. There is also a chance that they may alter their voting habits. Some members may drift a bit to the right or left, but it is hard to forecast who may change and by how much.

The result will likely make it even harder for Republican incumbents who are seeking re-election — such as Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-ifle) — to get anything done in Congress that they can tout to constituents during their 2024 campaigns.

As it turns out, those leopards are going to end up eating more than just a few faces.


4 thoughts on “Abandon Ship! McCarthy, McHenry Lead GOP Exodus in 2024

  1. re:  “Republicans are in risarray.”

    I keep trying to explain that Republicans ‘R’ Revolting. 

    McCarthy’s resignation will mean ANOTHER Republican seat will be vacant for a couple of months. Currently announced early resignations / required special elections are

    • Higgins (D), NY*, resigning the first week in February, 2024. Special election is TBA
    • Johnson, Bill (R), OH, resigning “before March 15, 2024.” Special election is TBA and will require a special primary election and a special general election — so the seat will be vacant for much of 2024.  
    • Santos (R), NY*, vacant on Dec. 1, 2023. Election set for Feb. 13, 2024
    • McCarthy (R), CA*, vacant end of Dec. 2023. Election TBA.
  2. That's right.  Set the barn on fire and then walk away and leave the Democrats to clean up the ruins.  Oh well they weren't going to be any help with that anyway.  Maybe just maybe this will be an opportunity for recovery (laughs bitterly).

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