This week started off with the death of 36 year House incumbent John Murtha (Democrat from Pennsylvania). His death was quickly followed by the retirements of 76 year old Democratic incumbent Diane Watson from Los Angeles, California and Vern Ehlers, who was a 76 year old Republican from Michigan. These two retirements were then followed by a bizarre case of “musical chairs” retirements, where two Republican Congressmen from Florida who are brothers are both retiring, except that one of the brothers (Mario Diaz Balart) is going to run for the seat of his retiring brother Lincoln Diaz Balart’s seat instead. Finally, Patrick Kennedy (D-Rhode Island and son of the late Ted Kennedy) decided today not to run again.
So in summary, the collective amount of House seniority lost this week was approximately 105 years, calculated as follows:
John Murtha – 36 years
Lincoln Diaz Balart – 18 years
Vern Ehlers – 17 years
Patrick Kennedy – 16 years
Diane Watson – 9.5 years
Mario Diaz Balart (if he doesn’t get elected to his brothers seat) – 8 years
Another note about the Kennedy retirement: his district voted 65-33% for Barack Obama, so his district is theoretically just outside of the range of an “Obama plunge” (defined here)- meaning if the Democrats can’t retain THIS seat, they are in VERY serious trouble.
Finally, filing for Congressional races has closed in New Mexico (45 states have not yet closed their candidate filing), and next week, filing closes in Indiana and Ohio. And there is an upcoming primary in Texas on March 2, where the story of the hour has been the late surge in the Republican Gubernatorial primary of a Tea Party supported candidate named Debra Medina. Her candidacy’s surge is noteworthy (we previously mentioned this race here), because it was thought that the race was a titanic battle between the incumbent Governor and the senior U.S. Senator who wanted his job.