With another potential electoral route in the making, the 2012 election is finding many veteran Congressional Democrats bailing out.
Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank is the 17th Democratic lawmaker to announce their intent to not seek reelection in 2012. Only six Republicans are leaving the House. Fear of defeat was not among the several reasons he offered for giving up his 15-term House seat. The recent redistricting that drew large numbers of Republican voters into his district and the stunning defeats in former Congressman Anthony Weiner's New York district and of Ted Kennedy's former Senate seat surely played a larger role in his decision than he would ever care to admit. In the Senate the situation is no better, with six Democrats bailing out and only two Republican incumbents leaving.
An article in Monday's The Hill described how these retirements are likely to impact the Democratic Party's aspirations to regain control of the House in 2012. It's apparent that President Obama's steady slide in popularity is causing uneasiness within the party. There had even been talk of a challenge from within his own party, a humiliation akin to that suffered by Jimmy Carter when the delegates at the 1980 Democratic convention chanted "Ted! Ted!" while Carter pathetically pursued Kennedy around the platform.