December 14th, 2009
11:56 AM ET
8 years ago

Fourth House Dem in past month announces retirement

Washington (CNN) - Rep. Bart Gordon of Tennessee announced Monday that he will not run for re-election next year, the fourth House Democrat in the past four weeks to retire rather than than defend their seat in next year's midterm elections.

The 13-term Democrat has held the seat in Tennessee's 6th congressional district since 1985, winning nearly three-quarters of the vote in his re-election bid last year.

But the district, located in the north-central portion of the state, went for John McCain in last year's presidential election by 25 points. George W. Bush won the district by 20 points in 2004.

"I feel honored that the people of Middle Tennessee have allowed me to serve them for the past 25 years," Gordon, who chairs the House Science and Technology Committee, said in a statement released Monday. "Every decision I have made in Congress has been with their best interests in mind. I hope the people here at home feel that I have served them as well as their good advice and views have served me.

"When I was elected, I was the youngest member of the Tennessee congressional delegation; now, I'm one of the oldest. In fact, I have members of my staff who weren't even born when I took office. That tells me it's time for a new chapter," added Gordon.

Gordon says his family played a part in his decision: "Turning 60 has led me to re-evaluate what's next. I have an 8-year-old daughter and a wonderful wife who has a very demanding job. I am the only child of my 83-year-old mother, Margaret. They have made sacrifices to allow me to do what I love by serving in Congress, and now it's my turn," said Gordon.

One Democratic leadership aide tells CNN Gordon's announcement, first reported by the Washington Post, "was not a surprise, and we already have political people on the ground in the process of recruitment."

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Chris Van Hollen also sounded an optimistic note. “We are confident that a Democrat who shares Chairman Gordon’s commitment to putting progress before partisanship on behalf of Middle Tennessee will succeed him as the next Representative of Tennessee’s 6th District," he said in a statement.

Gordon's move follows retirement announcements by fellow Democrats Brian Baird of Washington State, John Tanner of Tennessee and Dennis Moore of Kansas. Rep. Robert Wexler, who represents Florida's heavily-Democratic 19th congressional district, has also announced he's retiring next year. Six other House Democrats are running for higher office in 2010. No House Republicans have announced retirement, but as of now 12 are running for statewide offices next year rather than for re-election.

"It's official: Democrats now have a retirement problem. After being forced to toe the line for Nancy Pelosi's reckless agenda too many times, Blue Dog Democrats would rather roll over and retire than face the political headwind that is barreling toward them,: says National Republican Congressional Committee communications director Ken Spain. "This is evidence of the fact that the Obama-Pelosi agenda of government takeovers, permanent bailouts, and fewer jobs is taking a political and mental toll even on incumbent Democrats who were once-perceived to be firmly entrenched."

A Democratic leadership aide downplayed the development. "We've always said that there would be retirements. It happens every cycle."

Though the political landscape looks good for House Republicans next year, Democrats have not seen the same wave of retirements that occured before Republicans famously took back the House in 1994, when 28 Democrats chose not to seek re-election.

Democrats currently control the chamber by a margin of 258-177.

–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn

Filed under: Democrats • House • Popular Posts
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Jane/Seattle

    Fixing this governmental/corporate mess is hard work! Let only the strong work to correct these excesses! Calling for election process/financial reforms is the only way to get all the corporate hacks out and allow good folks to compete for the chance to really 'serve" this nation/world! Maybe he got a lobbying offer he can't refuse later! Or maybe the hopelessness of this is dawning on even these folks! Peace

    December 14, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  2. Tim

    Like humans, this "popular" president has evolved into no having a tail, or coat tail.

    December 14, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  3. Aunt Bea and Opie

    Looks like the rightwing hillbillies and big money have overtaken his district.With people like Corker in that State,it looks as though they are returning to the stoneage,its a shame.

    December 14, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  4. its a shame

    had a chance to make a difference and the old guard is giving out

    December 14, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  5. Silence Dogoode

    13 terms in 12 too many. We need term limits. We need them now.

    December 14, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  6. m jeff

    Blue Dogs are Republicans in disguise.

    December 14, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  7. Lori in St Pete

    Hmmm, I wonder how many multi-term republicans will take a page from the dems and walk the talk? If I was a betting woman I'd put up the farm with 10,000 – 1 odds that the number will be ZERO, and I'd be rich.

    December 14, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  8. Rickster

    lol...Good old Barry Obama is the best thing that ever happened to the republican party. He's sinking right to the bottom and taking everybody who still supports him right along with.

    December 14, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  9. Pat F

    The rats are abandoning ship – better than losing an expensive election.

    In 2010, we'll get the House back, at least – maybe the Senate too, if the deficit-exploding Democrats keep it up.

    December 14, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  10. Jonathan

    Republicans who think that Dems are jumping ship – you do realize that more Republicans have announced retirement than Democrats this year, don't you? It's been 11 to 9 so far. Kinda throws a wrench in your whole theory, doesn't it?

    December 14, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  11. buckwheat

    Why should they stay? They have accumulated enough time for the taxpayers to keep them up forever ,first class.The perks don't stop when they leave office they just keep perking on. Getting relected after supporting this president will be almost impossible when the ones who voted for him find what it is going to cost. Redistribution of wealth to the ones who haven't worked since the sixties is what it is all about.Thank Lyndon Johnson for the sorry state of our country. He made it possible to survive without moving no further than the mail box. There is no incentive to work.

    December 14, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  12. buckwheat

    If you have never had the misfortune to visit a third world country save your money.By 2012 you will be in one.

    December 14, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  13. Randy in PA

    I don't blame Gordon. Who in their right mind would want to work in Washington politics.

    1) you can't really get anything positive and good done
    2) you are constantly in a sniping environment
    3) you are up against greed and corruption
    4) you have to kiss everyones ass
    5) even if you start out wanting to do good for this country you end up becoming a hack like the rest of them

    December 14, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  14. Bob in Pa

    We need about 400 retirements from Congress and 80 from the Senate. We want and NEED TERM LIMITS !

    December 14, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  15. Billy J..Texas..

    Civil service as a politician sucks.... period. Only someone with no honor and a huge ego would be able to stay. Well...... I guess that isn't true but it most take a real toll on the honest and well meaning pol.

    December 14, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  16. Blaming the iceberg

    Rats leaving a sinking ship...

    December 14, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  17. buckwheat

    Have you ever thought that a goodly portion of our "citizens" already have health care cradle to the grave.Check the contents of our prisons and you will find why health care is so costly.

    December 14, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  18. T'SAH from Virginia

    So now President Obama is being BLAMED for cabinet members retiring?????

    Were we keeping track of all of the RETIREMENTS when BUSHwack was in office??? Was he being BLAMED for all of the RETIREMENTS that took place while he was president???

    Actually, the Party of No RETIRES or QUITS for other reasons – like infidelity – can't handle the job – stealing – starting WARS they cannot finish, etc.

    So I guess if a cockroach is seen leaving the White House with a suitcase, the Obama's would be blamed for bringing them there – AND, would be blamed for them moving out!!! The HATERS would state the CABINETS were too clean which forced the ROACHES to MOVE OUT because there wasn’t enough FOOD................PLEASE – GIVE ME A BREAK!!

    December 14, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  19. Obama Victim

    can anyone say "Titanic'??

    December 14, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  20. Joe Berson

    About a year ago with B. Obams's victory it appear the GOP was "dead in the water" for 2010 and 2012". Now it appear the Phoenix has arisen and things appear more hopeful for the "NO" party.
    Two suggestions for immediately strengthening the "good guy party' is to replace Reid as majority leader in the Senate and Pelosi as speaker of the House.

    December 14, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  21. SocialismBad

    Every new day brings more good news! The Democrats can read the writing on the wall. They saw the American people in action last summer at town halls and can't take an election cycle after they are forced to vote for the healthcare debacle.

    Will there be any Democratic bums to throw out by the time election time comes? Like all yellow bellies, they'd rather turn and run away with all their government benefits than stand before the electorate and defend this healthcare train wreck.

    The rest of you not considering "retiring" might want to put more thought into it!

    December 14, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  22. OldUncleTom

    These statements deflect political realities in most cases. Retirement is preferable to losing, and after 20+ years, maybe its time to cash in the markers they have collected along the way.

    "Serving the constituency" indeed!!

    December 14, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    "It's been 11 to 9 so far. Kinda throws a wrench in your whole theory, doesn't it?"

    Don't be silly. Facts and evidence NEVER stopped a GOPer/neoclown from parroting whatever their mama bird, little Rushy Limbaugh, regurgitated into their mouths this morning. They all seem to believe that, no matter what the feedback is from reality, repeating what they want to be true (like trickle-down economics, etc.), forces reality to make it so.

    December 14, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  24. Cleaning the House

    Sweet. Maybe we can start getting honest politicians in office.

    December 14, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  25. All the news that's fit to omit

    Rats from s sinking ship, the clueless and rudderless Captain is Obama and his first mates are Reid, Pelosi and Dodd.

    One by one the gutless out of touch frauds will walk the plank.

    2010 and 2012 – HISTORY will be made.

    December 14, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
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