Two Democrats Retire, One Republican Wins by Default

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., speaks against assault weapons at a news conference on Jan. 24, 2013, on Capitol Hill.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman scoop that two Democrats, New York Rep. Carolyn McCarthy and North Carolina Rep. Mike McIntyre, will retire at the end of this year. Conventional wisdom, based on data and vote patterns: Democrats will hold the Long Island seat and lose the eastern North Carolina seat. But the authors went further and got a nice kiss-off quote from North Carolina Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry.

Mike’s a talented politician and a nice guy, but there’s just no room for folks like him in the Democrat Party anymore.

Nice use of “Democrat Party,” an incorrect formulation relied upon to piss the other guys off, and nice spin for what happened to McIntyre. In 2011 the GOP legislature redrew McIntyre’s swing seat, which had given 52 percent of the vote to John McCain, into a safe Republican seat that gave McCain 58 percent of its vote. The goal, no secret, was to make it impossible for the Blue Dog to hold on. Republicans were so bullish about victory that they gave McIntyre’s opponent an RNC speaking slot. And it almost worked—McIntyre won by fewer than 1,000 votes in a race that took days to call.

Hey, both parties do it. Democrats made Rep. Roscoe Bartlett’s Maryland seat unwinnable, and now he lives off the grid in West Virginia. But it’s a little bit of sophistry to say that McIntyre left because his party had moved so far left recently. The Republicans literally pulled his old, moderate district out from under him. Only three districts—Nick Rahall’s West Virginia seat, Collin Peterson’s Minnesota seat, and John Barrow’s Georgia seat—are now represented by Democrats despite going strongly for Republican presidential candidates.*

(Oh, about McCarthy: Her district’s not as blue as McIntyre’s is red, but it’s close. Obama defeated Romney by 14 points there; she crushed a weak opponent by 30 points. She leaves the House after a crushing disappointment for her life’s goal, gun control, but this is the sort of seat the opposition party pretends to go after then gives up on in the stretch, especially with the statewide Democratic ticket looking at easy re-election.)

*Correction, Jan. 8, 2014: This post originally misspelled Collin Peterson’s name.