In today’s New York Post I take a look at Trey Gowdy’s sudden retirement and what it says about the state of the House GOP majority:
It’s worth noting that this move comes amid political green shoots for Republicans. After months of increasingly ugly polls, the generic-ballot deficit has stabilized in the mid-single digits, a survivable range for the GOP. Presidential approval, perhaps the best historical barometer for midterm performance, has crept above the 40 percent political “Mendoza” line for the longest period since last September.
And Republicans’ signature legislative achievement has risen in popularity as Americans see the impact of tax cuts in the news and in their paychecks.
Yet the GOP jailbreak continues. The House casualty list stands at 41 and counting.
And whether it’s the breakdown of regular order, the paralytic legislative process, consolidation of power within the leadership ranks or simply a calculated hedge against a rising Democratic tide, congressional chairmen are leaving the People’s House in droves.
So one can easily rationalize Gowdy’s decision, as one could each of the nine outgoing committee chairmen that came before him. Many, including Gowdy, leave behind safe seats, and weren’t responding to direct political threats. Now-former Budget Chairman Diane Black (R-Tenn.) is actually seeking a statewide promotion. And among those who were vulnerable, like Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce, most were term-limited by strict House GOP rules.
In the case of Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen — himself both endangered and unlimited — the gavel may have been stripped even if he had returned. Which is to say each member exits under their own circumstances.
But, while Gowdy’s retirement won’t cost Republicans a seat, it represents the most visible indicator yet that as House control hangs in the balance, those with the most vested interest in holding serve are choosing flight over fight.
Read the full piece here.