In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race. The update -- recently published -- looks at political and demographic trends through the 2018 midterm.
Monday's retirement announcement by Republican Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon barely caused a ripple in the national news cycle, other than to note that he is the 15th GOPer retiring from the House without seeking another office at the end of 2020.
But it's a particularly telling sign that the House GOP does not expect to regain the majority. He is only 62, practically a kid by congressional standards, so age and infirmity are not pushing him out. And if the Republicans were getting back into power, he would be missing out on a lot.
Walden is the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. And he has time left on his chairmanship. (Republicans have a six-year term limit on committee chairmanships.) Meaning that if Republicans took back the majority in the 2020 election, Walden would run one of the most powerful committees in the House for two more years.
Walden is close to House leadership. The Oregon Republican spent two elections -- 2014 and 2016 -- as the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, one of a handful of leadership gigs among House GOPers. In that role, he worked closely with the likes of now-Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, a huge political junkie, and now-Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
While Walden's seat isn't going to be competitive between the two parties -- President Donald Trump won the district by 20 points in 2016 -- that Walden is willing to walk away from it and that the leadership isn't trying to convince him (or wasn't able to convince him) to stay speaks volumes. If the party leadership saw the majority not only within reach but also better than an even bet, there's no way that a "made" guy like Walden -- someone in the party's good graces and who would stand to benefit -- walks awayMike Allen and Alayna Treene at Axios:
The biggest recent change is Republicans' increasingly precarious hold on the Senate.
National Journal's Josh Kraushaar writes in his "Against the Grain" column that "the pathway for a narrow Democratic takeover of the upper chamber is looking clearer than ever": "If Trump doesn’t win a second term, Democrats only need to net three seats to win back the majority."
Scott Reed, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce senior political strategist, tells me that third-quarter fundraising reports showing three Republican senators being out-raised by Democratic challengers (in Arizona, Iowa and Maine) "are a three-alarm fire."