By: Elena Schneider and John Bresnahan
A flurry of Republican retirements in recent weeks has further weakened the party’s hold on the House heading into the midterms — and the exodus probably isn’t over.
California Reps. Darrell Issa and Ed Royce both bailed on their reelection campaigns in the past 48 hours, bringing the total of Republican-held open seats to a staggering 29 districts, a figure that includes lawmakers seeking higher offices. The Issa and Royce retirements open up seats that Hillary Clinton carried in the 2016 presidential race and will be more difficult — and expensive — for Republicans to defend, particularly if the party is swept under a Democratic wave.
“There’s no putting lipstick on that: They’re both competitive districts,” Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in an interview Wednesday.
Stivers, who said he believes the party will keep control of the House, still cautioned that more retirements could be coming — a statement likely to rattle Republicans’ nerves.
“We’re talking to a handful [of members],” Stivers said. “There’s not much hand-holding now because people have pretty much made their decision. Filing days are coming, so I think we’re pretty much through it.”