Democrat Rep. Jim Cooper, who has served in the House for more than 32 years, announced his retirement Tuesday, hours after Republican lawmakers in Tennessee approved a redistricting plan that carves up his Nashville-area district.
“Despite my strength at the polls, I could not stop the General Assembly from dismembering Nashville,” he wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “No one tried harder than me to keep the city whole.”
Cooper joins a raft of House Democrats who have announced retirements in recent weeks, as states finalize new congressional maps and Democrats face mounting obstacles in their attempt to retain the House majority in the midterms. Cooper is the 29th Democrat to announce plans to retire or seek another office at the end of the year, compared with 13 Republicans.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC tied to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, said Democrats have not seen so many House retirements in 28 years, “more than the 2010 wave and tied for the record set in the 1994 Republican Revolution.”
On average, 42 House members have left their seats in years following census-driven redistricting going back to 1946, according to the Brookings Institution’s Vital Statistics on Congress.
While the redistricting cycle has not been as bad for Democrats as many expected — offset, in part, by Democratic attempts to shore up the party’s control in the small number of states where they control the process — it has seen the dismantling of numerous congressional districts in urban areas, many of them majority-minority communities.