House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has made it no secret that she’s aiming to take back the House in 2012. And in recent weeks she seemed to make some progress, out-raising her GOP counterparts in September while the Republican freshman class fell behind in fundraising. But in recent weeks a herd of old bulls have announced their retirements. On Monday, Barney Frank became the 17th House Democrat to announce he would not seek another term. Thanksgiving weekend saw the departure of Charlie Gonzalez on the heels of Jerry Costello, Dan Boren and Mike Ross. Is there something these old timers know that we don’t? After all, if Pelosi had a shot of taking back the House next year they would have plum positions of seniority – many of them would be committee chairmen.
To be fair, nine of the 17 are seeking higher office, including Indiana’s Joe Donnelly, who is challenging Dick Lugar for his Senate seat, and Chris Murphy of Connecticut who is running to replace retiring Independent Joe Lieberman.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee isn’t panicking yet. Only six of the 17 seats are potential GOP pick up targets. And some turnover is natural – especially given the age disparity of the Democratic caucus compared to the GOP conference. Still, a few more retirements and Pelosi might seriously start to worry. It’s never good when one’s own flock threatens a chance at taking back the majority.