DCCC chair: Brooks retirement signals challenge for GOP women

DCCC chair: Brooks retirement signals challenge for GOP women
© Greg Nash

The chairwoman of the House Democrats’ campaign arm said Friday that her Republican colleague’s retirement announcement poses a challenge for the GOP in recruiting more women to run for office.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairwoman Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosDCCC is out of step with Democratic values Climate report makes agri-business a target Farmers have to be part of climate solutions MORE (Ill.) lamented the retirement of Rep. Susan BrooksSusan Wiant BrooksHouse Democrats target 2020 GOP incumbents in new ad The House Republicans and Democrats not seeking reelection in 2020 Mellman: Is the DCCC in successful chaos? MORE (R-Ind.), who said Friday that she will not seek a fifth term in 2020.

“I’ve worked with Congresswoman Brooks and I wish her well in her retirement. However, in a party whose leadership continually marginalizes women’s voices, losing Congresswoman Brooks, who was working hard to recruit women to run for office, underscores the problem Washington Republicans have created for themselves,” Bustos said in a statement.

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Brooks, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) recruitment chairwoman, is one of 13 Republican women serving in the lower chamber. Ahead of her retirement announcement, she championed the NRCC’s efforts in recruiting female candidates for the next election cycle.

Bustos said that Brooks’s retirement signals the GOP could face an increasingly uphill battle in closing the party’s gender gap in the House.

“As the ranks of women in the House Republican caucus continues to shrink, it must be disappointing to lose such a strong advocate for Republican women,” she said.

The top Democrat also said that Brooks’s decision to leave Congress is the latest sign that Republican efforts to retake the House are in a state of disarray.

“Furthermore, as the head of the NRCC’s entire recruitment effort across the country, Congresswoman Brooks’ retirement is the clearest evidence yet that Washington Republicans efforts to retake the majority are in a tailspin,” she said.

Brooks is expected to stay on as recruitment chair for the NRCC, the body’s Chairman Tom EmmerThomas (Tom) Earl EmmerThe House Republicans and Democrats not seeking reelection in 2020 Cook Political Report moves TX-23 from Toss Up to Lean Democratic after Hurd retirement Will Hurd, only black Republican in House, retiring MORE (R-Minn.) said Friday.

“When we look back, Susan’s legacy will be that she played an instrumental role in leaving our new Republican majority far more diverse than it was when she found it,” he said in a statement. 

“Susan has assured me that she will be increasing her recruitment efforts, so we are full steam ahead.”

Brooks was named on the DCCC’s list of potential retirements, and Bustos said that Democrats “intend to compete for and win” in Indiana’s 5th district with her retirement.

“While Washington Republicans laughed at the idea Congresswoman Brooks would retire, we intend to compete for and win this district because we are not just going to defend our Democratic Majority, we are going to grow it,” she said.