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The governing wing of the Republican party is nearing extinction

Another one bites the dust.On Monday, New Jersey Rep. ...

Posted: Jan 30, 2018 5:12 AM
Updated: Jan 30, 2018 5:13 AM

Another one bites the dust.

On Monday, New Jersey Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, a noted moderate and chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, announced he was leaving Congress after 12 terms -- joining a rapidly expanding group of Republican moderates heading for the exits in advance of the 2018 election.

Frelinghuysen is the 35th House Republican to announce plans to leave by the end of the year -- as compared to just 15 Democrats. But, it's not just the raw numbers that matter here. It's who these retiring Republicans are -- and what the districts they represent look like.

Of the 23 districts Hillary Clinton won in 2016 that are currently represented by Republicans, six will be vacant in 2018. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Pat Meehan of Pennsylvania, Ed Royce and Darrell Issa of California and Dave Reichert of Washington are retiring while Rep. Martha McSally of Arizona is running for Senate.

Then there are the districts like the one Frelinghuysen is leaving in northern New Jersey where President Donald Trump beat Clinton by just a single point in 2016. Among those in similar seats are retiring Reps. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, Dave Trott of Michigan and Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey. Trump won them all but the underlying political realities of the districts suggest Democrats will make a major play to win them this fall.

The same was true for Frelinghuysen. After he faced minimal opposition for most of his time in office, Democrats -- enticed by Clinton's performance in 2016 -- recruited a top-tier candidate to challenge the incumbent. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report already rated the race a "toss up" prior to Frelinghusyen's retirement announcement.

What's even more interesting than the districts these members are leaving is the ideological profiles of the members themselves. They tend to hail from what Dent has described as the "governing wing" of the Republican party. They tend to be moderates or, at the least, less ideologically driven in their thinking. They see the work of government as necessary. They regard compromise as a success rather than a failure.

Frelinghuysen was -- and is -- a noted moderate and establishment figure. (Four Frelinghusens served as US senators and one, Theodore, was Henry Clay's vice presidential nominee in 1844.)

While Frelinghuysen was in his first term as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, there was already some chatter among conservatives who wanted to challenge his chairmanship due to the fact that he voted against the Republican tax cut bill in late 2017. (Frelinghuysen said he voted "no" because of the cap on state and local tax deductions -- which will inordinately impact New Jersey.)

Frelinghuysen is in good company. While the Tuesday Group, the most prominent collection of House GOP moderates, doesn't release its membership, a number of House Republicans affiliated with the group are calling it quits including Ros-Lehtinen, Dent (a current chair of the group), Reichert, McSally and LoBiondo.

Dent explained his decision this way in his retirement announcement last fall:

"As a member of the governing wing of the Republican Party, I've worked to instill stability, certainty and predictability in Washington. I've fought to fulfill the basic functions of government, like keeping the lights on and preventing default. Regrettably, that has not been easy given the disruptive outside influences that profit from increased polarization and ideological rigidity that leads to dysfunction, disorder and chaos."

Trump's victory in the Republican primary process in 2016 heralded a new day within the GOP -- a victory of hardliners over compromisers. The reverberations from that hostile takeover played out in elections in 2017: Ed Gillespie very nearly lost a Republican primary fight in the Virginia governor's race to an opponent who aligned himself closely to Trump while Roy Moore -- often described as "Trump before Trump" -- beat a sitting senator in Alabama. Both Gillespie and Moore ended up losing to Democrats.

Now the Trump effect is playing out in the composition of the Republican party in Congress. As I've written when Dent and Reichert and Royce and Issa retired, Frelinghuysen won't be the last member of the party's governing wing to walk away from Congress even with his party in power (and time left on his chairmanship). For moderates within the GOP, serving in Congress has stopped being fun.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 515504

Reported Deaths: 10296
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34999558
DeSoto33360432
Hinds32743643
Jackson24906392
Rankin22565405
Lee16455245
Madison14954283
Jones14158248
Forrest13834260
Lauderdale12311323
Lowndes11357193
Lamar10693140
Pearl River9748244
Lafayette8868143
Hancock7849132
Washington7559169
Oktibbeha7229138
Monroe7068179
Pontotoc7033110
Warren6885178
Panola6791135
Neshoba6744210
Marshall6707142
Bolivar6468151
Union643598
Pike5942157
Alcorn5921107
Lincoln5540136
George510680
Prentiss508285
Tippah495683
Itawamba4884107
Scott478999
Tate4777117
Adams4776125
Leflore4749144
Copiah458195
Yazoo458092
Simpson4566117
Wayne443472
Covington434895
Sunflower4319106
Marion4295112
Coahoma4244110
Leake414191
Newton396182
Tishomingo386894
Grenada3789109
Stone366166
Jasper341266
Attala340490
Chickasaw318367
Winston318392
Clay312978
Clarke301695
Calhoun286850
Holmes272889
Smith270552
Yalobusha244947
Tallahatchie232353
Greene225149
Walthall222166
Lawrence220242
Perry214556
Amite210357
Webster206548
Noxubee188843
Montgomery182157
Carroll175441
Jefferson Davis174343
Tunica163539
Benton153139
Kemper145441
Choctaw137027
Claiborne134839
Humphreys132239
Franklin126530
Quitman107828
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson97134
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 848137

Reported Deaths: 16185
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1164052005
Mobile743681384
Madison53497738
Shelby38435371
Baldwin38195589
Tuscaloosa36152644
Montgomery34562782
Lee25655264
Calhoun22630520
Morgan22530411
Etowah20069520
Marshall18846318
Houston17777426
St. Clair16958359
Limestone16195220
Cullman16157306
Elmore15940295
Lauderdale15069307
Talladega14260302
DeKalb13083271
Walker12168380
Blount10779193
Autauga10560157
Jackson10214196
Coffee9435192
Colbert9366210
Dale9044192
Tallapoosa7285202
Russell710065
Chilton7090170
Covington6969197
Escambia6967144
Franklin6364108
Chambers5801142
Marion5437132
Dallas5302210
Pike5129109
Clarke485786
Lawrence4850130
Winston4793110
Geneva4655136
Bibb435795
Barbour370680
Butler3444101
Marengo342993
Monroe338366
Randolph337867
Pickens334890
Fayette331785
Henry321166
Cherokee320364
Hale319189
Crenshaw261678
Washington256852
Cleburne255460
Lamar253555
Clay252969
Macon246367
Conecuh193562
Coosa186048
Wilcox178538
Lowndes178468
Bullock152845
Perry141840
Sumter139841
Greene130545
Choctaw94428
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