Another senior Democratic congressman from a competitive district said Monday he would retire, heightening pressure on party leaders seeking to avoid a 1994-style election defeat that would change control of the House.
The planned departure of Rep. Bart Gordon (D., Tenn.), chairman of the House Science Committee, marks the fourth retirement in recent weeks, and the seventh in districts that analysts believe could change hands.
The upside, according to Democrats:
Party strategists describe the retirements as more of a trickle than a flood. Fifteen years ago, the party lost more than two dozen incumbents to retirement as the Newt Gingrich-led Republicans swept into power by gaining a total of 54 seats.
And, the downside:
Democrats, trying to minimize damage to their 41-seat cushion, are scrambling to talk skittish incumbents out of retiring, even as they work on a "contingency" track to line up credible candidates should more retirements occur...
Mr. Van Hollen said the leadership has developed an "early warning system" to detect potential retirements and talk worried incumbents out of leaving.
The plan, according to the WSJ, is to have Obama call iffy incumbents to persuade them to stick around. You know, because Obama's speeches have proven so effective this year.