by desmoinesdem, Wed Dec 09, 2009 at 05:26:42 AM EST
An informal list of 17 members the NRCC believes can be convinced to step down, privately called the "Dem Retirement Assault List," makes clear the party needs Dem incumbents to step aside if they have hopes of taking back the majority. The NRCC has taken pains to attack those lawmakers in recent weeks.
The list includes 14 members whose districts voted for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in '08. McCain won districts held by Reps. Ike Skelton (D-MO) and Bart Gordon (D-TN) with more than 60% of the vote, and districts held by Reps. Rick Boucher (D-VA), Alan Mollohan (D-WV), Marion Berry (D-AR), Nick Rahall (D-WV) and Mike Ross (D-AR) with more than 55%.
McCain narrowly won seats held by Reps. John Spratt (D-SC), Allen Boyd (D-FL), Vic Snyder (D-AR), Baron Hill (D-IN), Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), Tim Holden (D-PA) and Collin Peterson (D-MN).
The NRCC has also begun targeting Reps. Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) and Leonard Boswell (D-IA), three members who already have credible opponents but who occupy seats Pres. Obama won in '08.
Here in IA-03, Boswell has three declared Republican opponents. Two of them are likely to be well-funded: Brad Zaun, who has a decent chunk of the Iowa GOP establishment backing him, and former Iowa State university wrestling coach Jim Gibbons. Gibbons has already launched a couple of misleading attacks on Boswell, claiming he's not working hard enough and that the estate tax fix will hurt farmers and small business owners.
2008 would have been a perfect time for Boswell to retire. Tons of voters in IA-03 registered as Democrats in order to participate in the Iowa caucuses, and any number of candidates could have held this seat easily.
I don't know anyone who expects Boswell to step down next year, but if he did, this might be a tough hold, since Democratic turnout tends to be lower in off-year elections. On the other hand, much would depend on the Democratic nominee. One possible candidate is former First Lady Christie Vilsack, who seemed to leave the door open for a future campaign when she ruled out running against Senator Chuck Grassley.
Final note: in that Hotline piece, Wilson writes that
members frequently use the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks as the time to decide whether to retire, filling Dec. and Jan. with announcements about their future. Already, rumors are flying that various members have decided not to run again.
I hope we don't hear about more than a few additional retirements this winter. Who do you think are the most likely suspects?