December 2nd, 2009
01:09 PM ET
8 months ago

Does 2nd House retirement spell trouble for Democrats?

Washington (CNN) - When Democratic Rep. Dennis Moore of Kansas announced last week that he would retire after next year rather than run for re-election, political analysts wondered if the move by the six term congressman would spark other retirements by fellow Democrats.

Eight days later, Rep. John Tanner, another centrist, is joining Moore. Tanner put out a statement saying he'll retire at the close of the 111th Congress. Tanner, who's represented Tennessee's 8th congressional district for 11 terms, is a founding member of the so-called "Blue Dogs," a group of House Democrats who promote centrist policies.

While Tanner ran unopposed in his last two re-election victories, John McCain won the district by 13 points in last year's presidential contest. But 14 of the 20 state lawmakers in the district are Democrats. The district is located in the northwest portion of Tennessee and includes Jackson.

Will Tanner's retirement present the GOP with an opportunity?

"With $1.4 million in the bank, John Tanner opted for retirement rather than be forced to defend the abysmal economic policies of the Obama-Pelosi agenda," Ken Spain, National Republican Congressional Committee Communications Director, tells CNN. "When a longtime incumbent such as Tanner – who hasn't faced a credible challenge in over decade – chooses to retire, it speaks to the deteriorating political environment that Democrats have left in their wake after eleven short months."

But Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is optimistic his party can keep the seat.

"We are confident that a Democrat who shares Congressman John Tanner's determination to bringing bipartisan, commonsense solutions for Tennessee's families will succeed him as the next Representative of Tennessee's 8th District," says Van Hollen in a statement.

Amy Walter, Editor-in-Chief of the Hotline, says Tanner's retirement carries a lot of weight: "As the longtime leader of the Blue Dogs, and someone who's gone from majority to minority and back in his 21 years in Congress, many would take his decision as a signal that moderates were in a heap of trouble in 2010. If a guy like that is leaving, the thinking would go, how can a freshman or sophomore in a similar district have any hope of hanging on?"

Next November, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, where the Democrats hold an 258-177 advantage, are up for grabs. After winning back Congress in the 2006 contests and increasing their majorities in the 2008 elections, the Democrats will be playing a lot of defense next year. The GOP needs to win 41 seats back from the Democrats to take control of the House.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Filed under: Congress
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. oldtimer

    All democrats will feel the rath of the voting public, especially the seniors for taking away from our Medicare benefits, so they can fund the new health care proposal.

    December 2, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  2. Tommy Young

    Tanner has made a bunch of people mad by voting for the bailout. He would have been favored to be re-elected, but he would have had a tough race.

    December 2, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  3. Randi L.

    Or maybe it's just because Moore will be 65 and Tanner will be 66 and they just want to retire or do something different while they are still healthy enough to do so.

    December 2, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  4. Fed Up

    I think there's more trouble ahead than just 2 retirements.

    December 2, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  5. CNN afraid of a liberal post

    Good riddance..hope every one of the blue "dirty" dogs retire.

    December 2, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  6. Helen

    Thank you

    December 2, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  7. simp

    Let these spineless loser go, actually that's what we need new blood.
    These losers have not been that big of help to President Obama. Of course CNN makes a big deal out of this, that what this petty network
    does.

    December 2, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  8. 4254WO

    I would hope the people of Kansas would have more sense than elect another just like Moore. It would be great to have a Republican majority if only to not have to see Pelosi on TV all of the time.

    December 2, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  9. mjm

    No...10.2 unemployment and spending 3 trillion in 1 year does.

    Not to mention the health care disaster bill.

    December 2, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
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