Jan 26, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Another longtime House Democrat announces retirement

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call.

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) on Friday became the latest veteran House member to announce plans to retire from Congress at the end of this year.

Why it matters: It builds on an already historic exodus of lawmakers following a chaotic year that saw the first protracted speaker election in over a century, the first ever removal of a speaker — and little lawmaking.

What he's saying: Ruppersberger said in a statement that retiring was an "incredibly difficult decision," because "now more than ever, Congress needs thoughtful, end-game representatives like me – members who care more about constituents and our country and less about cable news hits."

  • "But it is time to pass the torch to a younger generation of leaders and I am looking forward to spending more time with my family," he said.
  • Ruppersberger has served in Congress more than two decades and was the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee from 2011 to 2015.

The big picture: Ruppersberger makes nearly two dozen Democrats not seeking reelection this year – nearly half of whom are running for higher office – in addition to 18 Republicans.

  • He joins several other veteran lawmakers retiring, including Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) and Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), a member of Democratic leadership.
  • Republicans, for their part, are also losing several longtime, high-ranking members, including House Financial Services Committee Chair Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) and Appropriations Committee Chair Kay Granger (R-Texas).

The intrigue: Ruppersberger's remark about limelight-seeking members reflects a widespread concern among his colleagues about the record number of House retirements this year.

  • Lawmakers in both parties have told Axios they worry that retiring institutionalists will be replaced by political animals with little regard for compromise or statesmanship.

What's next: Ruppersberger's district, which covers much of the area north of Baltimore, is heavily Democratic and unlikely to change hands in the general election.

  • Like others in solidly blue seats who are retiring this year, such as Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ruppersberger's retirement may kick off a fierce Democratic primary to replace him.
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