Republican representatives are quietly retiring in droves as 2020 blue wave looms

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Courting comparisons to rats leaving a sinking ship — or one of Jared Kushner’s Baltimore housing complexes — yet another Republican member of Congress announced today that they would decline to seek reelection next year.

Representative Mike Conaway (R-TX) joins four other GOP representatives in the last two weeks who have announced their retirements at the end of the current congressional term.

“It has been the absolutely the worst-kept secret in America today, but I am going to announce that I am not gonna run for reelection in 2020,” The Texas Tribune quoted Conaway as saying at a news conference while standing beside his wife and fighting back tears as he tried to get the words out. “Representing the folks in District 11 has been an honor and privilege that I cannot adequately describe.”

Confirming that his reasons for retiring from the House of Representatives have more to do with his frustration with his powerlessness since being relegated to the minority after the Democratic victory in the 2018 midterms, Congressman Conaway told the news conference:

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“One of the things I’ve told folks all along — when I’m no longer in a leadership position, I’m coming home.”

Other GOP lawmakers who have announced that they will not attempt reelection include Rep. Paul Mitchell of Michigan, a GOP leadership member; Rep. Martha Roby of Alabama, one of the few Republican congresswomen; Rep. Pete Olson of Texas, who faces a tight race  in his suburban Houston district; and Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah, who plans to run for governor.

While each of the departing Republicans has offered varying excuses for their retreat from the partisan battles in Congress, political pundits have placed at least part of the blame for the relatively massive — and still incomplete — exodus of GOP representatives on the difficulties in working with and defending the policies, actions, and statements of Donald Trump.

Tom Davis, a former senior Republican congressman from Virginia, explained to The Hill how Trump’s behavior has made life difficult for his former colleagues.

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“He has made an already hostile political environment worse.”

“Every day there is some indefensible tweet or comment to defend or explain. It is exhausting and often embarrassing,”

Indeed, both Representatives Mitchell and Roby have been known to be critical of Trump.

Mitchell criticized the president’s attacks on the progressive Democratic congresswomen in “the squad,” saying:

“We must be better than comments like these.”

“I share the political frustrations with some members of the other party, but these comments are beneath leaders,” he said.

Congresswoman Roby refused to vote for Trump in 2016, saying that his behavior during the campaign was “unacceptable as a candidate for president”

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With the Republican party completing its transformation into the party of Trump, it’s only natural that those remaining party members with morals and conscience are looking for the exit doors to avoid the stench of guilt by association. It’s a wonder that the number of people announcing their resignations isn’t much higher.

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Original reporting by Conrad Duncan at The Independent (UK).

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Vinnie Longobardo

Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile, & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.

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