Why Are So Many Republicans Leaving “Safe” House Seats?

One political phenomenon that began in 2023 and continues in ’24 is the ever-rising number of Republican U.S. Representatives retiring, resigning to take other jobs, or seeking other offices.

As of Tuesday, 18 Republican lawmakers are certain not to be returning to the House in 2025. Included in this category is New York’s freshman Rep. George Santos, who became the third lawmaker since the Civil War to be expelled by his colleagues.

On Tuesday morning, Indiana’s three-term Rep. Greg Pence became the latest Republican lawmaker to say, “Outta Here.” The 6th District relinquished by the older brother of former Vice President Mike Pence is considered safely Republican.

Pence’s surprise announcement came less than 24 hours after that of 14-year Rep. Larry Bucshon (pronounced “Boo-SHON”). Bucshon’s 8th District (Evansville) is also considered a cinch to be held by Republicans. Within hours, there was speculation of a coming bid for the seat by state Rep. Matt Hostettler, son of the district’s last Republican Rep. John Hostettler.

Last week, Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer, Mo., and Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., announced their retirements. Luetkemeyer had served for 20 years and Lamborn for 18. Both were safe bets for reelection and both will almost surely be succeeded by fellow Republicans.

Some experts believe that the increasingly partisan atmosphere in the House is becoming too much for members regardless of party.

“I expect more retirements,” political scientist Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute told Newsmax, “The House is not a pleasant place right now. If you are interested in governing – something that is not even on the radar screen for most Republicans in the body – there is not a lot to commend it.”

Past Republican members of the House who spoke to Newsmax echoed Ornstein’s opinion.

“They are leaving because the atmosphere is toxic.” Said former Rep. Melissa Hart, R-Pa., “The House is not a great place to be. It is not fun anymore for a member. So if you have someone who has been a member for a while, they usually choose to leave on their own terms.”

“Some of them are leaving because it’s time.” Former Rep. John Linder, R-Ga., a past chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, told us, “Doug Lamborn has been there 18 years. But mainly, I think, it’s not fun or rewarding any more. I expect [House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim] Jordan and [House Administration Committee Chair James] Comer are happy with their roles, but for the average member, with less seniority, there isn’t much of a role for them, and they can get more satisfaction elsewhere.”

Linder also pointed out that “since 2006 or so, leadership has decided to control everything. Bills are written by the speaker’s people and handed to committee to pass. [Former Speaker] Nancy [Pelosi, D-Calif.] started it, and Republican speakers seem to have followed her pattern, very little individual contributions seem to be allowed. I think I would find something else to do, too.”

Others speculate Republicans fear they won’t be in the majority regardless of how the presidential race goes.

When Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, submits his resignation later this month to become president of Youngstown State University, the breakdown of the House will be 219 Republicans to 213 Democrats and 3 vacancies.

This means that, until special elections are held, Speaker Mike Johnson and the Republican leadership cannot afford two absences on any key votes.

With court-ordered redistricting in disparate states such as Alabama, New York, and North Carolina, it is truly up in the proverbial air as to who will be in control of the next House.

For now, there is one good bet: that there will be retirement announcements coming from the Republican side of the House aisle, and soon.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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