Dem Reps. McIntyre, McCarthy to retire

 

Reps. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) and Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) will retire at the end of their terms, they announced Wednesday afternoon.

McIntyre's decision gives Republicans a huge pickup opportunity in his North Carolina district that's vexed them for years, and makes him the latest centrist congressman who has decided to retire. McCarthy's Long Island district could also be competitive for Republicans.

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McIntyre had been gearing up for a rematch against David Rouzer, whom he narrowly beat in 2012. Most Democrats expected him to run, but his fundraising numbers had sagged this year as compared to past years, an early sign he was mulling a retirement.

"In eastern North Carolina, we have demonstrated that public service is a partnership between the people and the representative they entrust to speak on their behalf. For us, this has been where the priorities of policy over politics, issues over ideology, dialogue over dollars, and cooperation over campaigning have prevailed," McIntyre says in a statement. "Having answered the call entrusted through this partnership, I will be retiring from the U.S. House of Representatives at the end of this term."

His retirement almost certainly means a lost seat for House Democrats. Mitt Romney carried the district by 20 percentage points in 2012, and without the well-known and battle-tested congressman in the race, Democrats admit it will be difficult to contest.

"It's going to be damn hard to hold the way they've redrawn it," one North Carolina Democratic strategist tells The Hill.

"There is very very little doubt in Mike McIntyre's mind that he would have won re-election if he sought again," said one strategist. But now, without the incumbent on the ticket, the Democratic source said there's "no chance" the party can hold it. 

McCarthy's retirement isn't a shock. She's been battling lung cancer and has missed a number of votes this year, and her signature issue — gun control — has stalled out yet again in the Congress, which a source says has frustrated her. The longtime smoker has also faced criticism back at home for suing companies, blaming their asbestos use for her health problems.

 

"I have decided not to seek re-election to the United States Congress in 2014," says McCarthy in a statement. "I am forever grateful to my constituents for giving me the privilege of representing them in Congress for the past 18 years.  As I plan for the next chapter of my life, I look forward to resuming my role as a citizen activist for the causes and principles that are so close to my heart."

She cited the need for more gun control in her retirement announcement.

 

"As a nation, more needs to be done to keep our citizens safe, while simultaneously protecting our Constitutional rights," she says. "Incidents involving gun violence over the last two years serve as yet another reminder that although modest progress has been made over the years, there is much more work to do."

The retirements mark the latest development in the exodus of centrists from the House. They join Democratic Reps. Jim Matheson (Utah) and Michael Michaud (Maine), as well as GOP Reps. Frank Wolf (Va.), Jon Runyan (N.J.), Jim Gerlach (Pa.) and Tom Latham (Iowa) as centrist-leaning congressmen who have decided to exit the House at the end of this term, continuing a trend that began nearly a decade ago.

Of the 34 House Democrats who voted against ObamaCare in 2010, just four may be running for reelection next year.

One Democratic strategist says the other retirements spurred McIntyre to make the same decision.

"Seeing Matheson on the Democratic side go and Runyan and Latham go and Wolfe and Gerlach go, I think he sort of felt increasingly like there was very little room for a centrist in the Congress," said the strategist.

It's also yet another blow to the centrist Blue Dog Coalition, of which McIntyre is a member. The Blue Dogs had 54 members in Congress as recently as 2010, but are down to 15 members currently, with three of them retiring or running for other office.

The centrist and Blue Dog exodus might not be over. Other centrists, notably Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), are also considered retirement possibilities.

Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) another Blue Dog in a tough district, tells The Hill he's definitely running in 2014.

"No question. I'm running for re-election," he tweeted at The Hill Wednesday afternoon.

McCarthy's Long Island district could be competitive, though Democrats hold the edge there. President Obama won the district with 56 percent of the vote in 2012.

—Jessica Taylor contributed to this report. 

This post was last updated at 2:30 p.m.