Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA) became the latest House Republican to retire and not run for reelection even though he was in a district that went solidly for Trump in 2016.
Cook, who was mayor of Yucca Valley and served in the state Assembly before being elected to Congress in 2012, is in his fourth term. He plans to announce a run to represent the 1st District of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors. Robert Lovingood, who currently holds the seat, recently announced he wouldn’t seek reelection.
Republicans hold a lead of four percentage points in voter registration in the district, which stretches from Mono County to San Bernardino County along the Nevada border. But despite recent Democratic interest in making inroads in the district, it’s been long known as a deeply conservative area. President Trump beat Hillary Clinton there by more than 15 percentage points, besting Mitt Romney’s 2012 margin in the district, and Cook won his last reelection fight against a fellow Republican with 60% of the vote.
As House Republican leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) continues to tell himself that everything is fine. It is clear that things are far from fine in the House Republican caucus. Trump has turned the Republican fundraising machine into his own vehicle while House Republicans are being left in the dust and face the growing likelihood that no matter what happens in the presidential election, they are not going to win back the House majority.
The retirements are coming at a record pace, and there is no sign that they are about to slow down.
If House Republicans thought that they had a chance of winning back the House, they might be more inclined to stick around, but these retirements shouldn’t be ignored. Even Republicans in safe Trump districts are choosing to leave. The writing is on the wall, as 2020 could be a very bad year for the Republican Party.
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