Wednesday June 20th, 2018 7:07PM

Unhappy moderate House Republicans complicate 2018 for GOP

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Veteran Republicans are bailing on Congress in growing numbers, as GOP control of Washington fails to produce the unity or legislative successes party leaders wish for. With President Donald Trump willing, if not eager, to buck fellow Republicans and even directly attack them, a number of lawmakers no longer wish to be involved.

The latest was two-term Rep. Dave Trott of Michigan, who said in a statement Monday that he'd decided after careful consideration that the best course for him was to spend more time with his family and return to the private sector.

In contrast to those diplomatic words was Trott's most recent tweet, sent in mid-August: "I think America needs more unity and less divisiveness...meaning @realDonaldTrump should focus more on golf & have less press conferences."

Trott joins a string of moderate Republicans, including Reps. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, Dave Reichert of Washington state and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, who are not seeking re-election.

Each of these seats will be heavily contested by Democrats eager to take back control of the House, and rumors abound of other GOP retirements still to come. Michigan Republican, Rep. Fred Upton, is mulling a campaign for U.S. Senate, according to party operatives who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations.

Also Monday a senior GOP senator, Bob Corker of Tennessee, issued a statement indicating indecision about his future following a CNN report stating that the influential chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee had not yet decided whether to seek re-election next year.

"It's not an automatic for me. It just isn't," Corker told reporters, although he added that as chairman he has "a lot of impact without passing legislation. I can influence things. This is more about just what I believe to be the right thing to do."

Although Republicans are hopeful Corker ultimately will decide to run — he already has $7.5 million in his campaign account — the senator was in Trump's Twitter cross-hairs in August after criticizing the president's response to the racially motivated protests in Charlottesville.

"Tennessee not happy!" the president declared after claiming that Corker was "constantly" asking him whether or not he should run again next year.

The developments have alarmed GOP operatives concerned that the trickle of retirements could turn into a flood unless congressional Republicans and Trump can come together and produce on their promises, particularly by overhauling the tax code. And, with Trump bypassing Republicans to make deals with Democrats, and encouraging primary challenges against sitting GOP senators, the retirement decisions also reflect concerns among some about whether they will get party support when they need it, especially with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon threatening all-out war on congressional leadership.

"There are some stability concerns in the party about whose team everyone is on," said Josh Holmes, a GOP consultant and former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "Concerns about whether your party is really with you."

It all illustrates that, far from producing unity within the Republican Party, the Trump era appears to be exacerbating existing GOP divisions while creating new ones. The familiar divide between pragmatic and ideologically driven Republicans has been heightened, while Trump's deal-making with top Democrats last week is forcing elected Republicans to choose sides between Trump and GOP leaders McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

"The party never united around Trump as it would another nominee, let alone president, and Trump is not a limited government conservative," said Alex Conant, a former top aide to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. "And so he is not a traditional Republican and as a result is going to clash with the traditional Republicans that fill the ranks of Congress."

The chaos and uncertainty produced by Trump and his orbit would be more acceptable to congressional Republicans if the party was achieving legislative success. Instead, its long-standing promise to repeal and replace Barack Obama's health care law collapsed on the Senate floor in July, while other priorities are moving slowly. As a result, a number of Republicans on and off Capitol Hill have come to view tax reform of some kind as a must-pass priority, without which the dam would likely break on retirements and Republicans would be in serious jeopardy of losing control of the House.

"Republicans need to put points on the board, to deliver and show they are getting something done," said Tom Reynolds, a former New York congressman who once chaired the National Republican Congressional Committee and is now a lobbyist.

Yet despite enthusiasm among Republicans, any final tax plan is a long way off, and many analysts are already predicting that Republicans will end up settling for some tax cuts that add to the deficit rather than full-blown reform.

For their part, Democrats are projecting increased confidence about their prospects in next year's midterms, especially in the House, where they must gain 24 seats to win the majority. Republicans have a 240-194 edge, with one vacancy. Democrats have their highest hopes pinned on the 23 districts where GOP House candidates won last year, as did Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pointed to Trump's overall approval rating nationally, which has dipped below 40 percent.

"There's probably nothing more dispositive of who wins next year's elections than where the president stands a year before," Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters Friday. "The year is fraught with meaning because that's when people decide whether to run or not, and that really is a timetable that's very important to us, and very positive for us right now."


Beaumont reported from Des Moines, Iowa. Associated Press writer Richard Lardner contributed to this report.


The story has been corrected to delete a reference to Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J., as a possible retirement. An aide said Tuesday he is running for re-election.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Presidential Election News, General House Election News, AP Business
© Copyright 2018
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Unhappy moderate House Republicans complicate 2018 for GOP
Democrats are relishing the growing number of congressional Republicans deciding not to seek re-election next year
3:17AM ( 8 minutes ago )
LEADING OFF: Indians eye No. 20 to match "Moneyball" A's
LEADING OFF: Indians eye No. 20 to match "Moneyball" A's
3:17AM ( 9 minutes ago )
The Latest: Iran's Supreme Leader condemns Myanmar violence
Iran's Supreme Leader has strongly condemned the killing of Muslims in Myanmar by the government
3:06AM ( 19 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Australians to soon post ballots in gay marriage survey
Australians will soon begin receiving their postal ballots on legalizing gay marriage as a new opinion poll shows that most of those who intend to vote over the next month are in favor of marriage equality
1:59AM ( 1 hour ago )
Appalachian poor, left out of health debate, seek free care
The sick and poor in Appalachia are flocking to free health clinics
1:12AM ( 2 hours ago )
Trump's voter commission meets amid concerns about mission
A commission created by President Donald Trump to investigate his allegations of voter fraud is scheduled to meet in New Hampshire
12:34AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Michigan Republican congressman won't seek re-election
Republican Rep. Dave Trott of Michigan says he will not seek re-election
7:02PM ( 8 hours ago )
Trump wants Congress to reauthorize surveillance tool
The Trump administration is urging Congress to reauthorize an intelligence surveillance law set to expire at year's end
6:02PM ( 9 hours ago )
California challenges Trump's end to young immigrant program
California is suing the Trump administration for ending a program that shields young immigrants from being deported
4:48PM ( 10 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Racial politics color New York City's looming mayoral race
The story of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio's 2017 re-election highlights the Democratic Party's broader struggle with racial politics in the age of Trump
11:18AM ( 16 hours ago )
Cambodian leader threatens opposition over arrested chief
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has threatened to dissolve the main opposition party if it gets involved in legal proceedings against its chief, who was charged with treason last week
10:04AM ( 17 hours ago )
Norway wrestles with EU ties, national values before vote
Norway's upcoming election has sparked a wide-ranging debate about national values
9:21AM ( 2 days ago )
AP Elections
GOP Rep. Charlie Dent announces retirement from House
Republican Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, a moderate who had been sharply critical of President Donald Trump, has announced he will not seek re-election an eighth House term next year
8:27PM ( 4 days ago )
Trump Jr. tells Senate he 'did not collude' with Russians
President Donald Trump's eldest son told lawmakers Thursday he was open to receiving information about Hillary Clinton's "fitness, character or qualifications" in a meeting with a Russian lawyer last year.
6:23PM ( 4 days ago )
Trump Jr. tells senators he 'did not collude' with Russians
President Donald Trump's eldest son told lawmakers Thursday he was open to receiving information about Hillary Clinton's "fitness, character or qualifications" in a meeting with a Russian lawyer last year.
5:09PM ( 4 days ago )
General Presidential Election News
Top Republican woman in US Congress draws Democratic rival
The top woman in House Republican leadership has drawn a Democratic challenger
2:50PM ( 1 week ago )
Kremlin confirms Trump's lawyer reached out about deal
The Kremlin has confirmed that President Donald Trump's personal lawyer has reached out to them during the 2016 presidential campaign, seeking help for a business project in Russia
3:46PM ( 1 week ago )
Judge orders Montana congressman photographed, fingerprinted
A judge has ordered Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte to be booked, photographed and fingerprinted after he pleaded guilty to assaulting a reporter the day before he was elected in May
9:17PM ( 3 weeks ago )
General House Election News
Samsung eyes foldable smartphone, voice-controlled speaker
Samsung Electronics aims to launch a foldable smartphone next year under its Galaxy Note brand and is working on a voice-controlled speaker
2:28AM ( 58 minutes ago )
UN approves watered-down new sanctions against North Korea
The U.N. Security Council has unanimously approved new sanctions on North Korea in a watered-down resolution that eliminates a ban on all oil imports and an international asset freeze on the government sought by the Trump administration
1:30AM ( 1 hour ago )
Samsung says it aims to launch foldable smartphone next year
Samsung Electronics aims to launch a foldable smartphone next year under its Galaxy Note brand
1:08AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
LEADING OFF: Indians eye No. 20 to match "Moneyball" A's
LEADING OFF: Indians eye No. 20 to match "Moneyball" A's
3:17AM ( 9 minutes ago )
The Latest: Iran's Supreme Leader condemns Myanmar violence
Iran's Supreme Leader has strongly condemned the killing of Muslims in Myanmar by the government
3:06AM ( 20 minutes ago )
St. Martin's residents struggle with desperate conditions
Hundreds of people across an island shared by Dutch St. Martin and French St. Martin are trying to rebuild the lives they had before Hurricane Irma hit
2:49AM ( 37 minutes ago )
Turkey issues warrants for ex-agents for links to cleric
Turkey's state-run news agency says authorities have issued detention warrants for 63 people, mostly ex-intelligence agents, for alleged ties to the U.S.-based Muslim cleric accused of masterminding last year's failed coup attempt
2:48AM ( 38 minutes ago )
AP Video: Players test out first WNBA video game
AP Video: New York Liberty test out first WNBA video game
2:48AM ( 38 minutes ago )