In an era that has seen Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, Robert Byrd and Ted Kennedy, a lawmaker’s retirement should never be assumed. But most members of Congress eventually decide to hang it up at some point.
Until recently, Democrats felt reassurance from the fact that they had no announced retirements in their House caucus, but in the part two weeks, two members have surprised their districts by announcing they’re riding off into the sunset: Dennis Moore of Kansas, age 64, and John Tanner of Tennessee, age 65. It seems safe to conclude that age is a factor in the decision to retire from Congress, and so let’s presume that members of Congress usually begin thinking about retirement sometime in their mid-60s.
There are a lot of House in their mid-60s or older:
John Dingell, Michigan, age 83.
Dale Kildee, Michigan, age 80.
John Conyers, Michigan, age 80.
Louise Slaughter, New York, age 80.
Charles Rangel, New York, age 79.
Sander Levin, Michigan, age 78.
Pete Stark, California, age 78.
Ike Skelton, Missouri, age 77.
John Murtha, Pennsylvania, age 77.
Diane Watson, California, age 76.
Leonard Boswell, Iowa, age 75.
Jim Oberstar, Minnesota, age 75.
Donald Payne, New Jersey, age 75.
Edolphus Towns, New York, age 75.
John Olver, Massachusetts, age 73.
Eddie Bernice Johnson, Texas, age 73.
Lynn Woolsey, California, age 72.
Grace Napolitano, California, age 72.
Bill Pascrell, New Jersey, age 72.
Nita Lowey, New York, age 72.
Paul Kanjorski, Pennsylvania, age 72.
Soloman Ortiz, Texas, age 72.
Jim McDermott, Washington, age 72.
Lois Capps, Califorina, age 71.
Maxine waters, California, age 71.
Maurice Hinchey, New York, age 71.
David Obey, Wisconsin, age 71.
Henry Waxman, California, age 70.
Steny Hoyer, Maryland, age 70.
By my count, there are 29 House Democrats age 70 or older, and another 39 are between 64 and 69.
Barney Frank, Massachusetts, age 69.
David Price, North Carolina, age 69.
James Clyburn, South Carolina, age 69.
Ruben Hinojosa, Texas, age 69.
Mike Honda, California, age 68.
Sam Farr, California, age 68.
Howard Berman, California, age 68.
Lucille Roybal-Allard, California, age 68.
Danny Davis, Illinois, age 68.
William Delahunt, Massachusetts, age 68.
Bob Etheridge, North Carolina, age 68.
Norman Dicks, Washington, age 68.
Bob Filner, California, age 67.
Marion Berry, Arkansas: age 67.
Parker Griffith, Alabama: age 67.
Walt Minnick, Idaho, age 67.
Gary Ackerman, New York, age 67.
John Spratt, South Carolina, age 67.
Anna Eshoo, California, age 66.
Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut, age 66.
Jose Serrano, New York, age 66.
Charlie Wilson, Ohio, age 66.
Lincoln Davis, Tennessee, age 66.
Alan Mollohan, West Virginia, age 66.
Susan A. Davis, California, age 65.
Doris Matsui, California, age 65.
Janice Schakowsky, Illinois, age 65.
Collin Peterson, Minnesota, age 65.
Emanuel Cleaver, Missouri, age 65.
Carolyn McCarthy, New York, age 65.
Silvestre Reyes, Texas, age 65.
George Miller, California, age 64.
Jane Harman, California, age 64.
Allen Boyd, Florida, age 64.
Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, Michigan, age 64.
Melvin Watt, North Carolina, age 64.
Robert Brady, Pennsylvania, age 64.
Charlie Gonzalez, Texas, age 64.
Jim Moran, Virginia, age 64.
Setting our potential “retirement watch” age a bit lower, to 61, we find another 30 House Democrats:
Barbara Lee, California, age 63.
Corrine Brown, Florida, age 63.
Bobby Rush, Illinois, age 63.
David Scott, Georgia, age 63.
Niki Tsongas, Massachusetts, age 63.
Dutch Ruppersberger, Maryland, age 63.
Ed Markey, Massachusetts, age 63.
Carolyn Maloney, New York, age 63.
Marcy Kaptur, Ohio, age 63.
Dennis Kucinich, Ohio, age 63.
Lloyd Doggett, Texas, age 63.
Rick Boucher, Virginia, age 63.
Vic Snyder, Arkansas, age 62.
Mazie Hirono, Hawaii, age 62.
John Yarmuth, Kentucky, age 62.
Jerrold Nadler, New York, age 62.
Eliot Engel, New York, age 62.
G.K. Butterfield, North Carolina, age 62.
Peter DeFazio, Oregon, age 62.
Al Green, Texas, age 62.
Ciro Rodriguez, Texas, age 62.
Gene Green, Texas, age 62.
Peter Welch, Vermont, age 62.
Robert Scott, Virginia, age 62.
John Larson, Connecticut, age 61.
Jim Marshall, Georgia, age 61.
Bennie Thompson, Mississippi, age 61.
Rush Holt, New Jersey, age 61.
John Hall, New York, age 61.
Earl Blumenauer, Oregon, age 61.
Allyson Schwartz, Pennsylvania, age 61.
Obviously, a lot of these members come from safely Democratic districts, and probably a good chunk of them intend to serve until they die or are physically unable to any longer. But there are a lot of House Democrats getting long in the tooth, who may be thinking about spending their golden years in a more relaxed pace… to say nothing of the possibility of some of these members getting suddenly called to that Big District Office in the Sky. We’ll see in the coming months how many decide there are other things they want to do besides run for reelection in an angry, anti-incumbent year.