May 8, 2009
By Fredreka Schouten
WASHINGTON — Four months into their new terms in Congress, 13 House members are seeking promotions to the U.S. Senate or statewide office — as lawmakers give up their posts at a faster rate than they have for the past three elections.
By comparison, five House members had announced plans to leave their positions by May 2007, the most recent non-election year. Most of the current departures come from the Republican ranks, leaving GOP-held seats open and posing further problems for a party struggling to rebuild after losing the White House and more ground in Congress last year.
"The Republicans have taken terrible beatings over the last four years, and 2010 is shaping up to be another good Democratic year," said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. GOP members, he added, "are casting about for anything that looks better than what they have."
Seven of the departing House members have jumped into governor's races, in which 38 seats are up for grabs from now until November 2010, compared with 11 last year. Big issues loom for governors — from guiding their states out of recession to helping to carve out congressional districts based on next year's Census.
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