Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, a powerful and controversial figure who keeps managing to get reelected no matter how much backlash has piled up against him over the years, announced today that he’s not seeking reelection in 2018. He’s just the latest Republican in Congress to throw in the towel ahead of 2018, and it’s not simply due to the blue wave we all know is coming. Take a look at who is retiring.
We’ve seen a historic number of Republicans in Congress announce of late that they won’t run in 2018. That alone is notable. But what stands out even more is this: a disproportionate number of the Republicans calling it quits are committee chairs or subcommittee chairs. Yes, they’ll lose those chairmanships if the Democrats take the House and Senate majority. But it’s not as if those roles would go away entirely for the Republican chairs, as they’d still hold ranking member or vice chair titles. This can’t just be about the blue wave and Congress flipping. It has to be about something more.
The thing about committee chairs is that they tend to know things the rest of us, even their fellow committee members, don’t know. For instance Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, as ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has seen quite a bit of classified information about the Trump-Russia scandal that no one else on the committee aside from Chuck Grassley has seen. That secret evidence surely played a role in making her feel justified in releasing the non-classified Trump Russia transcripts yesterday. People in these positions know things.
What does Darrell Issa know that we don’t? Whatever it is, he likely learned it thanks to his role as a House Judiciary subcommittee chairman. What does Orrin Hatch, who also prematurely announced he won’t be running in 2018, know? He probably learned it as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. It’s not that these roles would necessarily provide them with information on the Trump-Russia scandal specifically. But these committee leaders have to be learning something that’s motivating them to hurry up and get it on the record that they won’t be running in elections that are still ten months away. Until we figure out what they know that we don’t, 2018 is all still something of a puzzle. But the most informed Republicans in Congress sure do think their party is going to get wiped out.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report