Here’s How A Wave Of Dem Retirements Could Help The House GOP Grow Its Majority In 2024

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Mary Lou Masters Contributor
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  • A wave of congressional retirements and announced departures have altered the political landscape for the lower chamber in 2024.
  • The House GOP appears to be in a better position to capitalize off of the retirements, as there are currently more competitive open seats left by Democrats than Republicans, according to political analysts and electoral rankings.
  • “In 2022, they massively outspent the Republicans running against them and that was a big reason why they were able to hold onto their seats, even while Democrats lost control of the House,” David Wasserman, elections analyst at The Cook Political Report, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “And yet, we could be looking at a more level playing field in 2024 in these districts where both Republicans and Democrats could be spending similar amounts.”

House Republicans appear to be in a better position to capitalize off of a wave of congressional retirements, as there are more Democratic-held open seats in swing districts that pose an opportunity for the GOP to flip in 2024.

There are currently 31 House members who are not seeking another term in the lower chamber, including 20 Democrats and 11 Republicans — nearly all of whom hold seats that are considered safe for the GOP. Four Democratic-held open seats in battleground districts in Michigan, Virginia and California are most likely to flip red, while several other seats are also up for grabs by the GOP in 2024, according to political analysts and electoral rankings.

“Swing-seat Democrats are racing for the exits and making their party’s climb out of the minority even steeper. The [National Republican Congressional Committee] is pouncing on each of these open seat opportunities to grow our majority,” Jack Pandol, communications director for the House GOP’s campaign arm, told the Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement. (RELATED: Wave Of Retirement Announcements Could Mean Major Shakeup On Capitol Hill)

The seats held by Reps. Dan Kildee of Michigan, Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, Katie Porter of California and Elissa Slotkin of Michigan are currently the most vulnerable among outgoing Democrats, according to David Wasserman, elections analyst at The Cook Political Report. Kildee announced his retirement from politics Nov. 16, Spanberger launched a gubernatorial campaign on Nov. 13 and Porter and Slotkin have been running for Senate since earlier this year.

“In 2022, they massively outspent the Republicans running against them and that was a big reason why they were able to hold onto their seats, even while Democrats lost control of the House,” Wasserman told the DCNF. “And yet, we could be looking at a more level playing field in 2024 in these districts where both Republicans and Democrats could be spending similar amounts.”

During the midterms, Kildee secured his seat by roughly 10 points against the Republican challenger while raising a total of roughly $2.5 million more for the cycle. Spanberger won reelection in 2022 by nearly 5 points, and out-raised her GOP opponent by $5.4 million.

Porter beat her Republican counterpart by 3.4 points last cycle, and brought in over $22 million more. Slotkin won another term by just over 5 points against the Republican candidate, whom she out-raised by over $7 million.

“We always evaluate the balance sheet of open seats to determine which side has an advantage, and so far, Republicans are benefiting from more offensive opportunities in open seats, which is ironic considering that they’re the party that’s been in more turmoil, and could suffer a slate of retirements before all is said and done,” said Wasserman.

Kildee and Slotkin’s open seats are considered “Toss Up[s]” by The Cook Political Report, while Spanberger and Porter are characterized under the “Lean Democrat” category. Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics characterizes Kildee, Slotkin and Porter’s open seats in the “Toss-Up” column, while Spanberger “Lean[s] Democratic.”

For both political rankings, none of the seats held by Republicans not seeking reelection in 2024 are considered competitive except for that of New York Rep. George Santos, who could face an expulsion vote as soon as this week after the House Ethics Committee found “substantial evidence” he broke the law.

“So as of now, the Democrats have more vulnerable open seats. This is helpful to Republicans,” Kyle Kondik, nonpartisan polling analyst and managing editor for Sabato’s Crystal Ball, told the DCNF, adding that “although it is worth noting that incumbency is probably not as important as it once was. And the race for the House, overall, is still basically a Toss-up, as the Republican overall edge is small and there are enough competitive seats that either side could win.”

Wasserman also cautioned to the DCNF that “there aren’t that many competitive open seats” compared to other cycles, and added that it’s too early to decipher whether this gives Republicans an advantage in the House where they hold a slim majority.

Republicans Derrick Anderson, an Army veteran, and former Navy SEAL Cameron Hamilton are running for Spanberger’s seat.

“Virginia voters tell me constantly that they’re looking for significant change in our country’s direction,” Anderson told the DCNF in a statement. “Costs are out of control, the border crisis is leading to waves of drug deaths here in the Commonwealth, and America’s standing overseas is diminishing while our enemies increase the threat level across the globe and at home. I served as a Special Forces Green Beret to protect this country, and now I’m running for Congress to fight for Virginians. It’s time for change.”

“Representative Spanberger’s decision to run for governor is bad news for Virginia, but good news for residents of Virginia’s 7th Congressional District,” Hamilton said in a statement provided to the DCNF. “This is our opportunity to elect a principled representative, who will put The People first and lead with accountability and transparency. I look forward to the next year of campaigning across the district to represent my neighbors in Virginia’s 7th in the 119th Congress.”

FREDERICKSBURG, VA – NOVEMBER 08: Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) celebrates after winning reelection in 2022. (Anna Rose Layden/Getty Images)

Former GOP state Sen. Tom Barrett, who ran against Slotkin in 2022 and lost, is vying for the seat again.

“Tom is running because he knows he can win,” Jason Roe, adviser for the campaign, told the DCNF in a statement. “The frustration with inflation, gas prices, groceries, etc., are at an all time high and people are done with the Biden Administration and its enablers in Congress. Last year Republicans had a drag at the top of the ticket, allowing [Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer] to win the 7th District to more than 10 percent, while Tom lost by only 5 percent. This is a much better environment.”

Former state Assembly Republican Leader Scott Baugh is running for Porter’s seat again after narrowly losing in the midterms. Baugh is “extremely confident” he can flip Porter’s seat, and argued the political landscape of the race and the district will look different in 2024.

“A year ago, I was running against an extremely well-known incumbent with $30 million, and I raised $3 million, I got in the race late,” Baugh told the DCNF. “This race, this cycle, is so much different because I’m not running against Porter with all this money. Moreover, the two Democrats in the race seem to be racing to the far progressive left which is out of step with his district — this is a center right district. And you know, they’ll beat each other up in the primary a little bit, and it looks like both of them will have to spend all their money just to survive the primary. Whereas I’m in a very strong position, I’ll be able to come out of the primary with money in the bank and Democrats will be broke.”

Paul Junge, who lost to Kildee last cycle, is also running again, and several other Republicans are rumored to be considering a campaign, including former state House Speaker Tom Leonard.

Aside from the four swing-state Democrats and Santos, who announced on Nov. 16 that he wouldn’t seek another term, 14 other members are retiring, nine are running for Senate, two are running for their state’s attorney general and one is running for president.

Democratic Reps. Anna Eshoo of California, Grace Napolitano of California, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, Tony Cárdenas of California, Derek Kilmer of Washington, John Sarbanes of Maryland and Jennifer Wexton of Virginia, as well as GOP Reps. Ken Buck of Colorado, Bill Johnson of Ohio, Brad Wenstrup of Ohio, Michael Burgess of Texas, Kay Granger of Texas, Debbie Lesko of Arizona and Victoria Spartz of Indiana are all retiring from office.

Republican Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana and Alex Mooney of West Virginia, as well as Democratic Reps. Colin Allred of Texas, Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware, Ruben Gallego of Arizona, Andy Kim of New Jersey, Barbara Lee of California, Adam Schiff of California and David Trone of Maryland are all running for Senate.

North Carolina Reps. Jeff Jackson, a Democrat, and Dan Bishop, a Republican, are both running for attorney general in 2024, and Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota is running a longshot campaign for president in 2024.

The Cook Political Report classifies all of the House GOP members who aren’t seeking another term as in the “Solid Republican” category except for Santos, who is in the “Lean Democrat” column. Open seats held by Wexton, Kim and Trone are under “Likely Democrat” and Jackson’s district is considered “Likely Republican.”

“Retirements can always have an impact on which party gains or loses seats,” Ron Faucheux, president of nonpartisan polling firm President of Clarus Research Group, told the DCNF in a statement. “It depends on the district composition of retiring members. At this point, retirements are another complication for Democrats to pick up the seats they need for a majority. Often retirements reflect re-election difficulty and that’s another factor.”

House Republican Speaker Mike Johnson, who has only held the position for a month, has already begun fundraising to grow the GOP’s majority in 2024. Johnson helped raise $1.4 million during a Florida fundraiser with Rep. Vern Buchanan, and will head to New York this weekend for a NRCC donor retreat, as well as fundraise for Rep. Mike Lawler, according to Punchbowl News.

The NRCC experienced its largest fundraising boost for a single day since February of 2022 after Johnson was elected on Oct. 25, and the House GOP’s super political action committee, the Congressional Leadership Fund, brought in $16 million after he secured the gavel.

“Speaker Johnson has hit the ground running to ensure Republicans in critical districts have the resources they need to achieve victory,” Team Johnson Executive Director Billy Constangy told the DCNF in a statement. “The Speaker is all-in to grow our majority and the creation of this new joint fundraising committee shows he is committed to doing his part to help the team.”

The NRCC already has a 2024 target list of what it views as 37 vulnerable incumbent Democrats, including Kildee, Porter, Spanberger and Slotkin. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) also has a target list, which includes Santos, as well as a “Frontline Program” of 29 competitive seats it is focused on protecting next year.

Democratic House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, the DCCC, Kildee, Spanberger, Slotkin, Porter, Santos, Junge and Leonard did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.

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