Op-Ed by Newt Gingrich
It has been amazing to watch the national media’s coverage of the 2020 congressional elections so far.
Virtually all the coverage has contained the same message: Republicans are retiring in droves, and this must mean 2020 will be a tough election for the GOP.
Headlines, such as CNN’s "Here’s why members of the House GOP keep abandoning ship" and USA Today’s "More than a dozen Republicans are leaving Congress. Here are the lawmakers who aren’t running again in 2020" are prefect examples of the national media narrative.
The problem with this narrative is it’s misleading and incomplete.
What the trivia-focused, national media doesn’t seem to understand is that members of Congress are supposed to retire. And there is a large, diverse, exciting crop of smart Republican candidates throughout the country, who are seeking to bring new blood to Congress.
Republicans like to hear new ideas from new people. Republicans like revolutions and change. That’s the reason our leadership has term limits and the average age of Republican members of elected leadership is 18 years younger than Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic leadership (53 vs 71). It’s why the average age of Republican ranking members in House committees is 60, versus 67 for the Democratic chairpersons.
Consider this when you think about the images that the national media uses when it describes the parties in Congress. According to the media, the Democrats are all young, fresh-faced, idealistic members, while Republicans are all old members, who have served for eons.
I spent a good part of last week in Washington meeting with the various Republican committees – and briefly with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. He was actually the one who got me thinking about this column. When I asked him about the most recent spate of retirements, he told me he just wasn’t worried about it.
He then rattled off several new House candidates, who he thought would bring many new, good ideas to Washington. This led me to do my own research, and Leader McCarthy was right.
No one in the national media is telling the story of the tremendous recruitment effort the GOP is engaging. Nor are any mainstream outlets doing profile pieces on new, first-time GOP candidates (nothing like we saw with the rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez).
I have been told that the National Republican Congressional Committee has met with more than 450 people interested in seeking office. More than 100 were women, more than 100 were minorities, and more than 100 were veterans.
Here are a few examples (I don’t personally know, and have not met, many of the candidates, but I wanted to share a flavor):
- Ashley Hinson (IA-01) is a former TV news anchor and State Senator in Cedar.
- Wesley Hunt (TX-07) is an African-American West Point graduate who flew Apache helicopters in the Army before returning to Texas.
- Young Kim (CA-39) is a former Congressional aide, who became the first Korean-American Republican elected to the State Assembly in 2014.
- Michelle Fischbach (MN-07) previously served as lieutenant governor of Minnesota and president of the Minnesota Senate.
- Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11) is a Cuban-Greek-American who has represented portions of Brooklyn and Staten Island in the NY State Assembly since 2010.
- Michelle Steel (CA-48), who I know well – and have endorsed – was born in Korea. She currently serves as the vice chair of the Orange County Board of Supervisors and previously served on the California State Board of Equalization.
- Finally, Maria Elvira Salazar (FL-27) is the daughter of Cuban exiles. She grew up in Miami and spent her career as a Spanish language correspondent for a variety of networks.
This is just a small sample of candidates who will breathe a great deal of new life into – and bring many new ideas to – Washington in a new Republican Majority.
So, remember this the next time you see an article or pundit discussing the dire straits for Republicans in 2020: The real story isn’t about retirements – it’s about revolution.
Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich is the chairman of Gingrich 360, the host of the Newt’s World podcast and author of the New York Times best-sellers Understanding Trump and Trump’s America.