Election Langevin, McNerney join Democrats heading for exit

Election Langevin, McNerney join Democrats heading for exit

Election

The exodus of House Democrats ahead of a challenging midterm election season continued Tuesday, with Rhode Island Rep. Jim Langevin and California Rep. Jerry McNerney announcing retirement plans within minutes of each other.

The decisions by Langevin and McNerney bring the number of House Democrats retiring after this term to 20, with eight more running for other offices. 

Neither faced a competitive election in November. Nevertheless, their departures were greeted by GOP campaign committees as further proof that incumbent House Democrats think their party will lose the majority. 

“With failed records on every front, it’s no surprise Democrats are flooding the exits,” said Calvin Moore, communications director of the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Republican House leadership. 

By comparison, six Republican House members have announced plans to retire at the end of the year, while seven are running for other offices. 

Langevin, 57, who was first elected in 2000, has become recognized as a national leader on cybersecurity. He is the second-ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee and the third-ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee. 

In a letter published in The Providence Journal, Langevin said it was time to “chart a new course” that would allow him to stay closer to friends and family. 

Among his proudest moments in Congress, Langevin cited his vote in support of President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care overhaul, which he called “the most significant piece of legislation I ever supported.” He also said he would “always cherish the moment” he became the first congressman using a wheelchair to preside over the House as speaker pro tempore to mark the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

He is the first person with quadriplegia to serve in the House after he was injured in an accident in 1980, when he was a teenager.

Rhode Island has not finalized new congressional districts for the 2022 elections but a map that would retain the Democratic lean of its two congressional districts was approved by the state’s Special Commission on Reapportionment last week and sent to the legislature for its approval. 

McNerney, 70, was first elected in 2006. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rated the race for his Northern California 9th District seat as Solid Democratic under the new congressional map approved by California’s independent redistricting commission in December. Under the new map, the district would have voted for Joe Biden over Donald Trump, 55 percent to 43 percent. 

He did not provide a reason for his decision in a Twitter thread announcing his retirement. Instead, he focused on the accomplishments he said he was the most proud of, including a health center for veterans in San Joaquin County “and securing major investments in infrastructure and public safety, broadband, education, childcare, and health care access.”

McNerney’s background is atypical for a House member. He has a Ph.D. in mathematics, worked as a contractor for Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico and a senior engineer at a wind turbine company and eventually ran a startup that manufactured them. His politics are deeply informed by his background in science and mathematics, guiding his approach to how emerging technology can be utilized to address different issues.

Democratic Rep. Josh Harder, who currently represents the 10th District, said shortly after McNerney’s announcement that he would run for the 9th District seat McNerney is giving up. That district includes part of Harder’s current district and he has family connections to the area, he said in a statement. 

Candidates in California have until March 11 to file to run in the June 7 primary. Rhode Island’s filing deadline is June 29 for the Sept. 13 primary.

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