Hoyer: Dems can retake House despite Frank, other Dem retirements

The No. 2 House Democrat, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), said on Tuesday he does not expect a wave of party elders to follow Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) out the door ahead of the 2012 elections.

Frank on Monday became the 17th House Democrat to forego a reelection bid, but Hoyer sought to tamp down concerns that a large-scale exodus would hinder Democratic hopes to retake the House.

“I don’t think this will adversely affect, in any way, Democrats’ ability to retake the House,” Hoyer told reporters in his weekly briefing. “I fully expect us to take back the House. We have excellent candidates around the country.”

He noted that the number of Democrats retiring is well below the number that retired after the party lost control of the House in 1994.

“I don’t expect to have a large number of future retirements. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t have more,” Hoyer said. He said members “are energized” and that there is “a great deal of confidence” that the party can win back the majority.

While Democrats say the retirements stem from a variety of factors, Republicans argue they signal a lack of confidence that the party can win back the House.

“It must be painful for Steny Hoyer to keep a straight face while he cheerleads for Nancy Pelosi’s campaign to become Speaker again,” said Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. “Apparently the decades he has spent in Washington have blinded him from the reality that House Democrats are choosing to abandon ship rather than face another round of punishment from voters in 2012.”

Hoyer is 10 months older than Frank and took office just five months after him in 1981, but he said he isn’t going anywhere.

“I filed yesterday [for reelection], so I am committed to running again,” the Maryland Democrat said. “When I don’t like this job, I’ll get out. I still like the job.”

This post was updated at 6:30 p.m.