Two more House Democrats announce retirements

Two more House Democrats — Reps. Mike McIntyre (D-NC) and Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) — announced their retirements yesterday, giving Republicans an opportunity to pick-up the two seats later this year:

North Carolina Rep. Mike McIntyre and New York Rep. Carolyn McCarthy will not seek reelection this year, according to multiple Democratic sources familiar with their plans – marking a blow to Democratic efforts to win control of the House.

The 57-year-old McIntyre, who was elected in 1996 to the Wilmington-area congressional seat, narrowly defeated Republican state Sen. David Rouzer in 2012 and was poised to face him in a 2014 rematch. His retirement from the heavily Republican district will further thin the ranks of Blue Dog Democrats. It comes less than a month after another Blue Dog, Utah Rep. Jim Matheson, said his current term would be his last.
The 70-year-old McCarthy, who also was elected in 1996, announced in June that she was undergoing treatment for lung cancer. She arrived in Congress after her husband and son were both shot in a December 1993 incident on the Long Island Rail Road. McCarthy’s husband, Dennis, was killed, while her son survived. She has been a key proponent of gun control during her time in office.

As noted above, McIntyre’s district, NC-07, has a strong Republican tilt, according to The Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voter Index (PVI). Roll Call has already moved the race from “Pure Tossup” to “Currently Safe for Republicans.” So, put yet another seat in the GOP column for 2014.

McCarthy’s district also presents a pick-up opportunity for Republicans, though it’s not as favorable. NY-04 has a slight Democratic lean, with a PVI at D+3, and Roll Call acknowledges a Republican candidate “who can compete” would change the outlook of the race, but, until then, the seat is “Safe for Democrats.”

The beginning of the new year has brought a wave of congressional retirements, both Republican and Democrat alike, in addition to those who announced that they were headed toward the exits before the end of 2013. But, to this point, the retirements favor the GOP, according to Michael Barone’s analysis:

Republicans seem almost certain to capture Utah 4 and North Carolina 7 and to have some chance in New York 4; Democrats have the potential to mount serious challenges in New Jersey 3, Virginia 10 and Pennsylvania 6. The actuarial effect of these retirements seems to favor, slightly, an increase rather than decrease in the number of Republicans in the next House.

Though some questioned whether Republicans could keep the House during and shortly after the government shutdown, the Obamacare meltdown quickly changed that. The GOP made significant gains in the generic congressional ballot, surpassing Democrats for the first time in weeks.

But even without a Republican wave, a change of power in the House is unlikely to happen. While Democrats have to pick-up 17 seats to take control of the chamber, there just aren’t that many GOP seats that are, realistically, in play.

Given retirements and the likelihood of seats to change hands, Roll Call notes that “Republicans are well-positioned to retain their House majority, holding 211 seats currently rated safe and favored to win 11 more.” The Washington-based political news outlet points out that Democrats “would need to win every seat where they have even a slight edge, plus about 20 more.”

Also, keep in mind that the mid-term electorate isn’t usually favorable to the president’s party. That’s not to say that Republicans will see gains like they made in 2010, but winning a handful of seats currently held by Democrats and adding to their majority is a real possibility.

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