January 5, 2010: On the first Tuesday of the New Year a series of surprising resignations shocked the political world. The announcements capped off a year full of retirements from Capitol Hill. Lawmakers from both parties have declared their plans to leave Congress for a host of reasons. Some left to seek another office, others resigned from public life altogether. And a few legislators decided to walk away rather than face a difficult election. The retirements have reshuffled the Congressional deck and created hurdles for both Democrats and Republicans.
Sen. Byron Dorgan’s (D-ND) announced that he would retire from the Senate. The decision had a significant impact on the political landscape, giving the GOP a solid chance to pick up a the seat in 2010.
February 13, 2009: Early in his Presidency, Obama made the odd offer of his Commerce Secretary seat to New Hampshire Republican Sen. Judd Gregg. After briefly flirting with the position, Gregg withdrew his name citing irreconcilable differences. In his withdrawal, Gregg also announced that he would not run in 2010 — giving the Democrats a fairly good opportunity to take the New England seat.
January 4, 2010: 74-year-old Rep. Henry Brown (R-SC) began the new year with an announcement that he would retire.
January 13, 2009: Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL) announced he would leave his relatively cozy House seat to run for Mel Martinez’s old Senate job.
January 8, 2009: Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) officially announced his plans to retire, leaving the GOP to defend the seat in what has become a swing state.
February 19, 2009: Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) announced he would be leaving his House seat in an attempt to move to the Upper Chamber, vying for the seat opened by Sen. Bond.
May 27, 2009: After departing from the Republican Party, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) has moved fairly rapidly to the left on several issues. But these changes haven’t deterred Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), who will resign from his seat to challenge Specter in a primary.
July 27, 2009: Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) announced he will not seek re-election in 2010 in a move that may have helped the GOP in the Bluegrass State.
August 27, 2009: Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA) announced his plans to leave his Southeastern Louisiana seat to challenge embattled Sen. David Vitter (R-LA).
February 2, 2009: In Topeka, Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) declared his intention to run in the state’s Senate primary. He has since cast himself as a strong conservative by endorsing Doug Hoffman’s failed NY-23 bid.
March 30, 2009: Outspoken Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) announced he would be leaving Capitol Hill to make a run for governor. In addition to Hoekstra, a string of Representatives have also declared their plan to enter gubernatorial races.
Jeff Malet / maletphoto.com
February 28, 2009: Rep. Mary Fallin (R-OK) confirmed her decision to leave the House and run for Governor of Oklahoma.
February 9, 2009: Democratic Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) announced his plan to run for Governor.
May 1, 2009: Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA) throw his name into the hat for Georgia’s governor race. Deal is leaving the House after being the only Member of Congress to sign on to a letter requesting Obama’s birth certificate.
January 5, 2009: Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN) announced he will resign from his House seat to vie for the Governor’s mansion in Nashville.
March 5, 2009: Rep. J. Gresham Barrett (R-SC) announced his plans to leave his seat representing the state’s third district to run for Governor.
February 19, 2009: Florida Representative Adam Putnam (R-FL) announced his plans to leave Congress to run for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture.
October 6, 2009: To the delight of the national GOP, Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE), the sole House member from Delaware, announced his plan to run for Vice President Biden’s former seat.
July 20, 2009: Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) jumped headfirst into the upcoming race for President Obama’s former Senate seat, now held by the exiting Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL).
November 6, 2009: Rep. Jerry Moran (R-KS) announced his plans to run for U.S. Senate.
November 23, 2009: Rep. Dennis Moore (D-KS) became the first in a series of Blue Dog Democrats to announce their plans to resign in 2010.
December 2, 2009: Rep. John Tanner (D-TN) joined Rep. Moore as another conservative Democrat to abandon a swing seat.
December 9, 2009: In another swing district, Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) announced his plans to retire.
December 11, 2009: Candidate for Hawaii Governor, Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), announced his resignation from a relatively safe Congressional seat for Democrats.
December 29, 2009: Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA) announced his retirement in California.
January 5, 2010: Facing surmounting electoral obstacles, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) declared he would not run again in 2010 after 35 years in the Senate.
Jeff Malet / maletphoto.com