Congressman Darrell Issa, a Republican from California, announced on Wednesday he will not seek re-election, becoming the 31st GOP incumbent lawmaker to not seek another term in this November’s midterm elections.
Issa’s pending retirement is likely being celebrated by progressives across the country, given his penchant for creating frivolous investigations into former President Barack Obama when Issa served as chair of the House Oversight Committee. Issa’s obsession with the Obama administration once led the former president to quip that the congressman’s “primary contribution to the U.S. Congress has been to obstruct and to waste taxpayer dollars on trumped up investigations that have led nowhere.”
Issa is also known for avoiding his constituents when he doesn’t want to listen to their concerns. He once escaped to the rooftop of his district offices to steer clear of voters who were upset over his votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, for example.
His departure from Congress marks the latest in a pattern of an exodus of GOP lawmakers fleeing the legislative body, a strong indicator that a blue wave of Democratic candidates is coming this November to reclaim the House of Representatives and possibly even the Senate.
At least 31 Republicans are either retiring, chasing higher office, or not seeking re-election to their current positions in Congress, according to the Atlantic. For Democrats, that number is less than half of what the GOP has leaving; around 15 lawmakers are retiring, seeking higher office, or not putting their names forth for re-election.
Those exits give the Democrats a huge advantage going into November. Indeed, Issa’s seat is now placed in the “lean Democratic” column at The Cook Political Report as of Wednesday morning.
There are more signs that Democrats are favored to win back Congress, including polling that shows higher favorability ratings for the party. A CNN poll from the middle of December showed that Americans preferred Democrats to run Congress by a margin of 56 percent to 38 percent over Republicans among registered voters.
Republican lawmakers in Congress are “reading the tea leaves” and realizing that their Tea Party movement from eight years ago is now dead. In reaction to the impending wave of Democratic candidates likely winning back the legislative branch — and becoming an effective “check” on President Donald Trump — GOP representatives are opting to jump out before suffering the embarrassment firsthand.
It may be the most popular decision many of them make for the remainder of the year.