Another House Democrat announces retirement (but Nancy Pelosi will run again)

Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee announce that he will be retiring rather than running for reelection later his year. Cooper is the 29th Democrat to announce plans not to run for reelection, though several Democratic House members are running for other offices.

Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper of Tennessee announced he will not run in November after serving more than 32 years in the U.S. House, due to recent redistricting that made a path to reelection more difficult. He’s the 29th House Democrat to announce their retirement or run for another office this cycle.

Republican legislators on Monday in Tennessee advanced a map that would crack Cooper’s reliably Democratic district and Davidson County, which encompasses all of Nashville, into three districts that favor Republicans by at least 15 points.

“Despite my strength at the polls, I could not stop the General Assembly from dismembering Nashville,” Cooper said in a statement. “I explored every possible way, including lawsuits, to stop the gerrymandering and to win one of the three new congressional districts that now divide Nashville. There’s no way, at least for me in this election cycle, but there may be a path for other worthy candidates.”

This really does appear to be a decision made as a result of redistricting which split up Cooper’s district.

The congressional plan cracks Davidson County through downtown Nashville, parceling pieces of the current 5th Congressional District into the largely white, historically Republican 6th and 7th districts…

Political experts say the plan, approved on a 70-26 party-line vote, could flip the 5th to the Republicans, further entrenching the GOP in Tennessee with an 8-1 advantage in the congressional delegation.

Cooper is a moderate Democrat who ran unopposed in 2020 but was facing a primary challenge this year from the left. His challenger, Odessa Kelly, is one of five House moderates progressives wanted to challenge this year. A report published today by the Hill described Kelly as the underdog on the left’s 2022 dream team of challengers.

The young Nashville native is challenging Rep. Jim Cooper, a 16-term conservative Democrat and member of the Blue Dog Coalition in the House, for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District.

Like other outsiders angling for a way in, Kelly, a mother of two, has the support of Justice Democrats and progressive groups like Indivisible, Brand New Congress, the Working Families Party and a slew of local and community leaders in Tennessee.

Her platform is unabashedly progressive.

While fellow organizers see hope in Kelly’s bid against Cooper, some privately acknowledge she has a tougher road ahead than her counterparts.

Maybe she could have made some sort of showing against Rep. Cooper in his old district but with the city split up into three GOP districts, it seems very unlikely she’s got a shot at this.

But if Democrats are worried about the trend now that 29 House members have decided not to run again this year (several of them are running for other offices), they can at least count on Nancy Pelosi not to jump ship. Pelosi announced today that she is running for reelection.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Tuesday that she is running for reelection, citing the “crucial” need to defend American democracy through legislation on voting rights and other issues.

Pelosi, 81, has served in Congress since 1987.

“While we have made progress, much more needs to be done to improve people’s lives,” Pelosi said in a video posted to her Twitter feed. “Our democracy is at risk because of assaults on the truth, the assault on the U.S. Capitol, and the state-by-state assault on voting rights. This election is crucial. Nothing less is at stake than our democracy.”

Pelosi is 81 now, but she’ll turn 82 before the November election. Assuming she wins, she would be 84 in her last year in office (assuming she doesn’t run again in 2024.

I’m not sure why Nancy Pelosi wants to run again at this point. She’s almost certainly going to lose the Speaker’s gavel this year and it’s hard to imagine her bringing Democrats back to power at age 86 (or whenever that might happen). The only reason to run right now is to avoid become part of the current wave of retirements. After all, it’s one thing for a bunch of long-serving congressman who most people haven’t heard of to step aside, it would say something else entirely for Pelosi to retire. That might lead to another wave of retirements and ensure a GOP blowout. I think Pelosi is trying to stem the tide but I don’t see how it’s going to help unless something changes dramatically in the next 10 months.

Here she is pledging her readiness to take a punch or throw one “for the children.”