Normally, we see a lot of retirements when a wave election approaches, especially when the current minority sees no hope of making headway. Resignations in the middle of a term usually only come when an individual member faces legal or ethics problems, especially when the legislator is tied closely to its party’s leadership. And yet today, a longtime ally of Nancy Pelosi will announce his resignation effective two weeks from now, leaving Democrats well before the end of the session:
South Jersey Congressman Rob Andrews will resign from Congress later this month to take a job with a prominent Philadelphia law firm, a source close to the situation said Tuesday morning.
Andrews, a Democrat in his 24th year in the House, will resign around President’s Day weekend, the source said. He will take over a public affairs job at the firm, according to the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity and did not want to name the firm in advance of Andrews’ announcement.
It’s a bit jarring to see a 12-term Congressman parachute out of the House this early. But Andrews may just be hoping to avoid a little embarrassment, as well as another term in the minority:
Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ) to step down. Had faced ethics issues. Had been thought to be in line to be top Dem on Ed/Workforce Cmte
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) February 4, 2014
The Inquirer has more on that point:
Andrews has also faced an ethics committee investigation over a family trip to Scotland paid for with campaign funds. The House ethics committee was investigating the trip and the use of $30,000 of campaign money to pay for flights, a luxury hotel stay and other expenses while attending a wedding in Edinburgh.
As the article notes, Roll Call just held up Andrews as a key player in a post-midterm shift to the Left for Pelosi’s caucus:
I asked a dozen CQ Roll Call reporters and editors in recent days to suggest up-and-coming legislative forces, and a relatively limited number of names were mentioned time and again. …
If the caucus turns left over the long term, Texan Lloyd Doggett’s muscular progressivism would boost his prominence on the Ways and Means panel. Moderation becoming the byword would work to the advantage of Wisconsin’s Ron Kind, chairman of the business-friendly New Democrat Coalition. The previous chairman, New York’s Joseph Crowley, is also a force at the committee, but he aspires more to an overarching leadership role.
Two members are mentioned frequently for their combination of breadth of interest, depth of policymaking acumen and insiders’ standing: Robert E. Andrews of New Jersey, who has now set aside his simmering statewide ambitions to pursue interests ranging from education and health care to Pentagon procurement; and Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, the most prominent voice of House liberals on topics including domestic hunger and the war in Afghanistan.
So much for that plan. With yet another of her close allies leaving this session — Henry Waxman and George Miller as just two other examples of retirements at the top of the House Democratic ranks — one has to wonder just how long Pelosi will stick around. Or perhaps a better question will be how long her caucus will keep her in leadership even if she does stick around, without her lieutenants propping her up.
The Inquirer reports that there will be no special election in this seat. Republicans don’t have much chance in NJ-01, which has a Cook rating of D+13. The only shot the GOP would have would be in a special election when turnout models shift, but even that would have long odds. This does, however, mean that Democrats will have to spend a little more time and effort in a district they thought they could ignore, and that won’t help in November. Andrews’ departure also sends a strong signal of defeatism, and it might have more Democrats thinking about their post-Congressional options.