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Tanner to retire

Tennessee Democratic Rep. John Tanner will retire next November, creating an open seat in an area that strongly favors Republicans.

Tanner's decision, according to those familiar with it, was made weeks ago and based on his desire to return to the Volunteer State after more than two decades in Washington. The decision was first reported by the Hotline.

Tanner, first elected to the 8th district in 1988, has run without a serious challenge in recent years despite the fact that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won the seat with 56 percent in 2008.

Tanner is the second House Democrat from a swing seat in the past few weeks to take a pass on re-election joining Kansas Rep. Dennis Moore on the sidelines. In total, nine Democrats are retiring from the House or running for higher office in 2010; 12 Republicans are leaving the House.

Democratic strategists immediately insisted that nothing should be read into Tanner's decision regarding a broad-scale series of retirements in the face of a potentially difficult political environment next year.

But, Tanner's departure seems to be evidence of a validation of House Republicans' concerted effort to recruit credible challengers to longtime Democratic members sitting in GOP-leaning districts. Stephen Fincher, a farmer, collected more than $300,000 over the last three months.

That strategy, which includes challengers to Reps. Ike Skelton (Mo.), Bart Gordon (Tenn.) and John Spratt (S.C.), is straight out of the playbook of Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff and formerly the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

What's good for the goose....

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 1, 2009; 8:34 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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Comments

Also, Chris, why is NH listed as the most likely GOP senate seat to go Democratic? Do U honestly think Paul Hodes can beat Ayotte? Did John Lynch jump into the race and nobody said anything? Please. Right now, Missouri is the ONLY seat the Republicans are LIKELY to lose, and I suspect a state that was to smart to drink the Obama kool-aid last year will have serious reservations about electing ANOTHER sycophantic follower of the party line 2 the Senate.

Posted by: right-wing_genius | December 2, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse


By right-wing standards you are indeed a genius, and it's a real pleasure watching your species of impotent ignorance decline into extinction.

Posted by: dfc102 | December 2, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Regarding adrienne_najjar's (probably a terrorist) post, I proudly fall into her categories 2, 5, 13 & 14. Allow me to posit my own breakdown of the Democratic base:

1. Lazy
2. Terrorists & terrorist wannabes
3. Gullible
4. Ignorant
5. Crotchety old people
6. Lobbyists
7. Hollywood/Show biz
8. Fictional characters
9. Dead people
10. People who give less than 1% of their income to charity
11. Race-hustlers
12. Shysters
13. Wealthy nepotists
14. People who rarely if ever bathe/shower
15. Drug addicts
16. Drug dealers
17. Strange childless men who spend a lot of time at playgrounds & elementary schools
18. Faux-intellectuals (e.g., NYT)
19. "Activists" (f/k/a UNEMPLOYED)
20. Oprah

Also, Chris, why is NH listed as the most likely GOP senate seat to go Democratic? Do U honestly think Paul Hodes can beat Ayotte? Did John Lynch jump into the race and nobody said anything? Please. Right now, Missouri is the ONLY seat the Republicans are LIKELY to lose, and I suspect a state that was to smart to drink the Obama kool-aid last year will have serious reservations about electing ANOTHER sycophantic follower of the party line 2 the Senate.

Posted by: right-wing_genius | December 2, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

I think Republicans can run the table on the current competitive open seats, including two, PA-7 and NH-2, northern seats. The three southern seats are GOP leaning and they have probably their best candidates in PA-7 and NH-2.

Anyone have any thoughts on who else may retire? Maybe Kanjorski or Spratt?

Posted by: AnthonyJBrady | December 2, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

A series of retirements by Democrats in GOP-leaning districts is a trend worth noting and of concern to Democrats. Dean's goal was to compete in those districts. A political blog is entirely correct to keep an eye on it.

It would take quite a few more retirements to have a serious impact, though. And one result would seem to be a consolidation of the GOP's status as a regional party, which is not unalloyed good news for a party with national ambitions.

Posted by: nodebris | December 2, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

and wapo wonders why people think they are in the tank for the GOP. With the Dems holding Congress and the WH, we see Wapo polls about how the GOP is doing, we have CC constantly GOP cheerleading about supposed possible pickups in'10, we have a discussion about is Cheney getting too much softballpress, and not enough genuine, fact based questions, and even Perry Bacon Jr. thinks that blacks and other minorities either won't vote next year, or they might be open to GOP persuassions. No mention has been made of how national Jewish associations have written the RNC to denounce the use of Hitler/Holocaust images at rallies, with no response. No break down of the wapo poll concerning minorities and GOP affiliation, probably because there isn't any. And how about the lazy AP report the other day that headlined about a GOP senator spewing something inaccurate about healthcare reform. of course no mention in the headline about the Dem senator who disputed with facts the claims made by the GOP senator. Everytime one turns around, there's another GOPer getting press about saying "NO", etc... The world saw the failure of the US press to question the leadup to the Iraq invasion, now it sees the US press constantly putting forth the views and spews of the minority party, so I ask you, who has a hold on the short and curlies of wapo? why are we constantly inundated with Gerson and Krauthammer, and shills like CC and Bacon,jr.? Why can't we hear from Dem senators and former colleagues? Let's compare what other former Presidents and vps have done after their time in office--Gore has global warming front and center in the world view and Clinton has the CGI, which has already helped millions of poor people around the world. Bush,sr. works with the Carlyle group, who is associated with Saudis and big oil, Jr. is basking in the false glow of his library, and Cheney is just plain rude, crude and stirring up sewage with a big stick supplied by MSM.

Posted by: katem1 | December 2, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

John Tanner is a good guy. He was personally more liberal than his record. He had a number of gay staffers. His wife is delightful and probably is happy to have him back. Congress has lost a good guy.

Posted by: jmr1601 | December 2, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

People who vote republican fall into one or more of the following categories:

1. homophobic
2. tax-phobic
3. selfish
4. religious hypocrite
5. mean spirited
6. hateful
7. sexually repressed
8. anal retentive
9. self-righteous
10. misogynist
11. redneck
12. anti-intellectual
13. paranoid
13. callous
14. greedy
15. stupid

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | December 2, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse

I think one of the sad, and apparently lasting, effects of the past 30 years of political disaffection, which has grown from just disagreement into hate, negativity, and divisiveness, is that "we the people" have begun to assume, until given persuasive evidence to the contrary, that anyone who is "retiring" from Congress is somehow just one step ahead of a federal indictment for something.

It doesn't matter whether the observers are Dems or GOP, or whether the solons are Dems or GOP. We've become suspicious of everyone, and with blamed good reason.

Still, it is sad.

Posted by: Va_Lady2008 | December 2, 2009 7:19 AM | Report abuse

In this column one is a trend and two is a an unstoppable wave.


Posted by: margaretmeyers | December 2, 2009 6:13 AM | Report abuse

My guess is he just got tired of the endless partisanship in this town. He worked so hard to pass redistricting reform, which would reduce polarization in the House. Seemed to me like he actually cared about the budget/deficits and working across party lines when possible, two traits undervalued by the leadership of both parties. I wish there were more Members of Congress who took our budget problems seriously and treated their legislative opponents with respect.

Posted by: Pedalada | December 2, 2009 6:06 AM | Report abuse

Its a good thing hes retiring he would have been voted OUT !!! anyway get ready you slackers were going to kick you all out

GET MY PINK SLIPS ???

Posted by: yourmomscalling | December 2, 2009 4:03 AM | Report abuse

"That strategy, which includes challengers to Reps. Ike Skelton (Mo.), Bart Gordon (Tenn.) and John Spratt (S.C.), is straight out of the playbook of Rahm Emanuel"

Umm, no it's not. Were the GOP copying the Emanuel strategy, Republicans would be recruiting liberal Pubbies to take left-leaning seats. Instead, right now the GOP is heavily targeting right-leaning seats. And Moore and Tanner have made their efforts a little easier in KS and TN.

Posted by: coopbsure | December 1, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

'Tennessee Democratic Rep. John Tanner will retire next November, creating an open seat in an area that strongly favors Republicans.'


yawn... don't they all? doesn't everything in the universe strongly favor republicans?

Posted by: drindl | December 1, 2009 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Let the wave of Democratic retirements begin.

Posted by: RobT1 | December 1, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

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