As Republicans Flee Into Retirement Democrats Seize Their Chance to Retake the House

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On Tuesday night, three Representatives announced that they would retire at the end of their terms and not seek reelection in 2014. The Congressmen are Tom Latham (R-IA), Jim Matheson (D-UT) and Frank Wolf (R-VA). All three are considered moderates in their party and are from competitive districts. Wolf and Latham are from districts that were carried by President Obama in 2008 and Latham’s was won by Obama in 2012. Meanwhile, Matheson barely hung on to his seat in 2012 against Republican challenger Mia Love.

First off, we might as well cross off Matheson’s seat and give it up to the Republicans now. While Matheson is technically a Democrat, his voting record pretty much shows him as a center-right Republican. He sided with Republicans on many fiscal and budget issues. He voted against the ACA in 2010 and generally has a pro-life stance. He is opposed to same-sex marriage and has a pretty conservative view on gun control. His district voted for Mitt Romney by a huge margin of 37 points. There is almost no way this is going to a Democrat, unless a Republican decides to run as a Democrat but still vote for every conservative measure as soon as taking office.

Latham retiring really opens up a chance for the Democrats to take that seat, however. In 2012, Iowa lost a congressional district, so Latham was forced to either run against Steve King in the newly configured 4th District or go against Democratic incumbent Leonard Boswell in the 3rd. Obviously, Latham decided to run against Boswell and defeated him. However, while it wasn’t difficult to defeat the nearly 80-year-old Boswell, Latham could feel the heat and decided it wasn’t worth running this time around.

There are a large number of potential Democratic candidates in line. State Sen. Matt McCoy, former State Sen. Staci Appel, chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party Scott Brennan and Des Moines city councilman Michael Kiernan have all shown interest or actually announced.  It is even possible that former governors Tom Vilsack and Chet Culver might decide to run if they can be convinced, as they reside in the district. Also, don’t count out Vilsack’s wife, Christie.

Wolf has been in office since Ronald Reagan’s first election victory so it is not really a shock that the 74-year-old has finally decided to hang it up. However, he may also see the writing on his the wall in his district and realize that each race is going to be tougher and tougher. The district barely went to Romney in 2012 by one point and went for Obama in 2012. There are three Democratic candidates that have announced their campaigns: Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust, attorney Richard Bolger and architect Sam Kubba. On the surface it would appear that Foust is the favorite among those candidates.

So far, nine Representatives from this Congress have announced that they are not running again in 2014. Of those, eight are Republicans. The door is starting to open a little wider for the Democrats to be able to take back the house in 2014,


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