The prevailing media narrative is that, due to the unpopularity of President Donald Trump and an anticipated high turnout of Democratic voters seeking to remove him from office, it will be extra difficult for Republicans to regain the majority in the House — something which has supposedly prompted a large number of Republican House members to announce retirement rather than a re-election bid for 2020.
The latest House Republican set to depart is Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, the former chair and current ranking member of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, who has announced that he is done with “public service” and intends to pursue other opportunities in the private sector, The Washington Post reported.
Another Republican bows out
Walden’s announcement makes him the 22nd House Republican this year to announce that they will be resigning, retiring, or seeking a different elected office in 2020 instead of running for re-election to the House of Representatives.
Prior to Democrats gaining the majority in the House in the 2018 midterm elections, Walden served as the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, where he helped lead the unsuccessful effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, but did find some success in terms of legislation addressing the opioid drug crisis and helping put an end to nuisance robocalls from telemarketers.
The congressman has generally been supportive of President Trump, though the Post noted that he has crossed the aisle and supported Democrats on a number of key issues, such as voting to end the lengthy government shutdown at the start of the year and opposing Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border to free up funds for border wall construction.
In a statement to Politico, which first reported Walden’s plans to retire, the congressman said, “Based on recent polling, strong fundraising, and the backing of my wife and family, I am confident I could earn the support of 2nd District voters for another term. I’m also optimistic that a path exists for Republicans to recapture a majority in the House, and that I could return for two more years as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.”
“But I also know that for me, the time has come to pursue new challenges and opportunities,” he added. “So, I will not seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives, nor election to any other office, but instead I will close the public service chapter of my life, thankful for the friends I’ve made and the successful work we’ve done together.”
Walden, who is 62 years old, was first elected to Congress in 1998. A former radio station owner, he initially served on a telecommunications subcommittee prior to earning a seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee in 2001, eventually working his way up the ranks to become the chairman, and now, ranking minority member.
He also served for several cycles on the National Republican Congressional Committee, first as a deputy in the 2010 and 2012 cycles and then as chair for the the past four cycles.
Among the list of Republicans to announce that they won’t seek re-election in 2020, Walden is the fourth committee chair to do so. However, the other three committee chairs to announce their retirements were term-limited in their respective committees by House GOP rules, while Walden was still eligible to serve as chair for one more term.
Republicans likely to hold seat
Walden’s 2nd Congressional District in Oregon is solidly Republican and one that President Trump won in 2016 by a margin of 21 points. The congressman was most recently re-elected in 2018 with a margin of 17 points over his Democratic challenger, and it is widely expected that Republicans will hold on to that seat in 2020.
Hopefully, Republicans in Oregon will nominate someone who is aligned with President Trump’s “America First” agenda and who will be a staunch ally of the president over the next four years, assuming, of course, that Trump wins re-election to the White House.