Longest-Serving Sen. Pat Leahy, Senior Rep. Jackie Speier Latest to Retire in Democratic Exodus

Two prominent Democrats became the latest members to announce they won't seek re-election amid a growing Democratic exodus.

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the longest-serving member of the Senate, announced on Monday that he will not seek a ninth term.

"While I will continue to serve Vermont, Marcelle and I have reached a conclusion: it is time to put down the gavel," said Leahy, who has served in the Senate since 1975. "It is time to pass the torch to the next Vermonter, who'll carry on this work for our great state. It's time to come home."

Leahy, 81, is the fourth-longest serving senator in history.

He currently serves as the Senate president pro tempore, which puts him third in the line of presidential succession.

Rep. Peter Welch, Vermont's lone House representative, is the favorite to replace Leahy.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is 87 and reportedly has problems with her memory, would be next in line to serve as Senate president pro tem.

Speier, too:

California Rep. Jackie Speier, who chairs a House Armed Services subcommittee and has been one of the more prominent Democrats in the chamber since being elected in 2008, also said Tuesday she will not seek re-election.

"It's time for me to come home — time for me to be more than a weekend wife, mother and friend," Speier said in a video. "It's been an extraordinary privilege and honor to represent the people of San Mateo County and San Francisco at almost every level of government for nearly four decades."

Speier, who was shot five times while serving on an investigative delegation that visited the Jonestown cult in 1978, also served in the California State Assembly and later the state Senate.

“Forty-three years ago this week, I was lying on an airstrip in the jungles of Guyana with five bullet holes in my body. I vowed that if I survived, I would dedicate my life to public service. I lived, and I survived,” she said, adding that “there’s also another chapter or two in my book of life, and I intend to contribute to you, the communities I love, on the peninsula and in San Francisco and the country.”

Democratic exodus grows:

Three senior House members, Reps. John Yarmuth, Mike Doyle, and David Price, have already announced they will not seek relection.

Though Leahy's Vermont seat and Speier's San Francisco area seat are considered safe, Democrats may be preparing for minority status after next year's midterms.

Republicans currently hold an edge in the House map after aggressively redistricting congressional districts and Democrats' poll numbers have plummeted since the summer.

Democrats cannot afford to lose a single seat in the 50-50 Senate and hold just a nine-seat edge in the House.

Republicans currently hold their biggest edge in congressional preference in 40 years, with generic GOP candidates leading generic Democrats 51-41.

Democrats held a similar lead in 2017 and went on to flip 41 seats and control of the House the following year.


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