December 14th, 2009
11:56 AM ET
9 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. Greg, MN

    This might be the DNC strategy in 2010. Fall on the sword so we can run a new liberal whack job under the campaign of "Change"

    December 14, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  2. Steve

    Why is anyone even allowed to serve that long?

    December 14, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  3. Hugo

    Gosh, is it me or is Dick Morris a sooth sayer? Didn't Morris predict nearly exactly this course of political mishaps and debauchery that we are living? I think 2010 is going to be a rat killing of epic proportion for both Republican and Democrats alike. We are living in history making times and you may see a transformation of the GOP Conservative thought to something a little less religious based yet still strong with the goodness of what makes us a FREE NATION!

    December 14, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  4. Bev

    The smart Democrats are those that are jumping ship now--rather than face the embarrassment of being clobbered in the 2010 elections!!

    How can any Democratic politician defend the spending, unemployment rate, depressed economy-and other Obama/Democratic failed policies-and policies that go against what the MAJORITY in the country wants/does not want.

    This is especially true if they are in conservative districts-–where Bush or McCain won.

    It is better for them to jump ship now--and save themselves the stress and embarassment.

    December 14, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  5. Rick from Murfreesboro, TN

    We already have term limits, they are called elections. If you are too lazy to campaign againts an incumbent, or vote against one if you don't like what they do, then shut up and get out of the way.

    December 14, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "Is the new health care pact doomed?"

    Yep. It's been castrated by the spineless Dems who capitulated with the whining, fabricating, lying, insurance-industry pandering GOPers while Baucus led the retreat. It's not what's's who's doomed:

    45,000 / 365 = 123 people per day.

    But they can wait, right GOPers? Who's counting anyway?

    December 14, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  7. Tommy Young

    That's a conservative district. The dems will have a hard time holding it. They'll probably keep John Tanner's seat though.

    Hey Aunt Bea, if you knew anything about this district, you'd know that there is no "big money" in it.

    December 14, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  8. terry,va

    Don't quit chump. We want to kick your butt out.

    December 14, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  9. Enough

    This is their way of saving face, instead of getting booted out like they know they would. Pelosi...........are you paying attention, leave now or be voted out in humiliation.

    December 14, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  10. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I think a lot of Democrat or Republican politicians recognize that running for any government office know the public will find things out about you that have never been exposed in past history. That's more than enough to make one abandoned ship.

    December 14, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  11. aneanderthal

    They know 2010 is going to be bad for democrats thanks to Hussein Obama and Botox Pelosi and they are jumping ship. We need a few more to admit their failures.

    December 14, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  12. Kate in SW Fla

    I only wish a lot of other "long tiomers" would retire also, from both parties. With that being said, as a livelong Democrat, I wish it was Nancy pelosi who was retiring. She is a left wing idealogue who is being every bit as destructive to the country as the Republicans were in the previous 10 years. I think only moderates should be elected. Period.

    December 14, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |

    4 down, 531 to go.

    December 14, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  14. Dar

    It makes it look good on them selfs when they retire and not because they lost in 2010/2012

    I dont care how they go, just keep going please.

    December 14, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  15. Michael M, Phoenix AZ

    If not term limits for all in the House and Senate, then set age limits much the same as done by many many employers today in regards to hiring those over the age of 50 or 55!

    December 14, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  16. 1GregM

    I see where Biden is stumping for Dodd because he is encountering some stiff com[petition. Personally, I thnk we should give Dodd some time to turn things around – I'm thinking 25 to life is fair enough.

    December 14, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  17. Dwayne

    Senator Lieberman really fooled people in Connecticut. Now let's recall him.

    December 14, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  18. victim of democrat hypocrisy

    Or is this just a move so he can run for Senator or Governor?

    December 14, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  19. Kevin in Ohio

    Thank God this district will return to the right in November. Every single democrat we can get rid of is important.. Its a matter of life and death for this country.

    December 14, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  20. The Dems are getting out......

    before we boot them out in November............

    No Obama socialism in THIS country.............

    Sarah Palin/Liz Cheney 2012'

    December 14, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  21. Joe M

    The cockroaches are fleeing out from under the Camel dung pile Obama, has created...It will be grest to see them all gone and the BOY KING from Kenya with them.

    December 14, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  22. unemployed by Obama

    bye bye, more room for real trusted Americans.

    December 14, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  23. Jamie

    This is actually an opportunity for Democrats, not the doomsday media 24 hour news cycle schizophrenia its trying to make it into or the 'Republican Resurrection' Steele and talking heads try to 'mistake' Americans and CNN into perceiving. A political party always needs to renew its base and Democrats have the advantage of youth, women, and minorities. Republicans will never fully these groups into the 'tent', nor do these groups want to go as there, as polls still show – and don't buy that Governor's races that were two very local issues based elections will predict 2010 or 2012.

    December 14, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  24. J.R.

    I don't know why the Democrats can unite and pass whatever they want. The Republicans had no qualms whatsover doing that when they had control for six years during Bush's presidency. If they can remember this, and pass everything they can, they won't have to worry about retiring members because the people will continue to elect democrats in 2010 since they accomplishing everything they said they would be!

    December 14, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  25. Sue

    They are baling out left and right.

    December 14, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
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