A Republican Retires--Finally

The last month of 2009 has been marked by Democratic retirements from the House of Representatives, but finally a Republican has announced he'll retire, without plans to run for another office: Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA) has announced he won't seek reelection in 2010.

Radanovich is the 13th Republican to announce his retirement from the House, but he's the first to retire without seeking another office.

It may not help Democrats too much--Radanovich ran uncontested in 2008, and his solidly red district will probably remain in Republican hands in 2010--but it's a welcome break from the recent news of Democrats retiring from the House, which has caused a bit of pondering about how much the Democratic majority is likely to shrink and whether a cascade of Democratic retirements would follow. Former DCCC Chairman Martin Frost admitted that "[s]ometimes, this can be contagious."

Most significantly, a few Democrats from moderate districts that Republicans have targeted in the past were among the retirees. Reps. Dennis Moore (KS), John Tanner (TN), and Bart Gordon (TN) all fit the profile. 11 Democrats are retiring in total, so they're actually ahead of Republicans.

When Gordon announced his retirement two weeks ago, Marc wrote that Republicans were in good position to pick up seven of the open seats, while Democrats could pick up three. Radanovich's retirement doesn't change that calculus; in fact, it's the best kind of retirement for Republicans--a red seat where no Democrat was strong enough to challenge in 2008, in which Radanovich has endorsed a successor, state Sen. Jeff Denham, who will have enough time to raise some money for the race.

As Campaign Diaries notes, there is a down-side to this new race for Republicans: a likely primary between Denham and Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson, who was preparing a challenge to Radanovich and has previously been backed by the Club for Growth, the group that funds conservative candidates in Republican primaries--which is looking strong in this election cycle and can be, at times, a GOP headache machine.