Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Congressional retirements and open seats in 115th

The 2018 midterm elections are shaping up to be an interesting contest with at least 54 open House seats up for grabs on November 6 along with four open Senate seats. A majority of these come from a near record number of retirements (post-World War II, only 1992 had more) while the remainder come from lawmakers seeking higher office. All told, and including those members who are leaving to run for another office, there will be 17 open House seats vacated by Democrats, 37 by Republicans, and three seats by Senate Republicans.

Of particular importance to letter carriers and federal employees, who are under the jurisdiction of the House Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) Committee, Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) announced in late January that he too will retire at the end of the year. Chairman Gowdy becomes the ninth Republican chairman of a congressional committee to decide to leave Congress at the end of this session. Currently, there are not many OGR Republicans interested in taking the gavel as Chairman, which will make for interesting discussions in the coming months.

The midterm elections are historically tough for the party of the President in power. Incumbents tend to have an advantage over newcomers, and sitting chairs enjoy an even bigger advantage, but nothing is a guarantee in congressional Washington anymore.

As of press and according to the independent, non-partisan Cook Political Report, here’s how the open House races breakdown:


Solid Democrat

11 D

Likely/Lean D

3 D/7 R

Toss Up

3 D/3 R

Likely/Lean R

4 R

Solid Republican

23 R

CO-2 Polis

AZ-2 aMcSally

MI-11 Trott

KS-2 Jenkins

AZ-8 Franks

SD- At Large Noem

HI-1 Hanabusa

AZ-9 Sinema

MN-1 Walz

NM-2 Pearce

FL-17 Rooney

TN-2 Duncan

IL- 4 Gutierrez

CA-39 Royce

MN-8 Nolan

OH-16 Renacci

ID-1 Labrador

TN-6 Black

MA-3 Tsongas

CA-49 Issa

NJ-11 Frelinghuysen

TX-21 Smith

IN-4 Rokita

TN-7 Blackburn

MD-6 Delaney

FL-27 Ros-Lehtinen

NV-3 Rosen


IN-6 Messer

TX-2 Poe

MI-9 Levin

NH- 1 Shea-Porter

WA-8 Reichert


MS 3 Harper

TX-3 Johnson

MI-13 Conyers

NJ-2 LoBiondo



ND-At Large Cramer

TX-5 Hersarling

NM- 1 Lujan Grisham

NV-4 Kihuen



OH-12 Tiberi

TX-6 Barton

PA-1 Brady

PA-7 Meehan



PA-11 Barletta

TX-27 Farenthold

TX-16 O’Rourke

PA-15 Dent



PA-18 Murphy

VA-6 Goodlatte

TX-29 Green




PA-9 Shuster

WV-3 Jenkins





SC-4 Gowdy












In order to see a change in leadership in the House, Democrats would need to pick up at least 24 House seats to retake the majority from Republicans, who've had control of the House since 2011.

In the Senate, the numbers are tighter, but very much in Republicans’ favor. Democrats would need only two seats to shift the majority, but with 33 total seats up for re-election in 2018, only eight are held by Republicans, while Democrats (and two independents who caucus with them)  are defending 25 seats. Only about a dozen of the contests are expected to be competitive. Ten of those are held by Democrats while Republicans only have Sens. Dean Heller’s (R-NV) and Jeff Flake’s (R-AZ) seats to worry about at the moment. While anything can happen, especially in midterms, a Senate takeover may prove too difficult of a task for the minority party this cycle.

According to the independent, non-partisan Cook Political Report, here’s how the open Senate races breakdown:

Solid Democrat


Likely/Lean D


Toss Up

2 R

Likely/Lean R


Solid Republican

1 R



AZ - Jeff Flake


UT - Orrin Hatch



TN - Bob Corker



Will the possibility for a party swing, especially in the House, mean more openness to compromise or a digging in on partisanship for the rest of the 115th Congress? It is hard to say. Regardless, let’s assume that at least 57 Members of Congress may be open to advancing NALC’s key issues before they move on in November. Take a look to see if your member is among those leaving and consider reaching out to see if they will help.

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