“…nothing is going to happen for the rest of the year…”
Rep. Dennis Cardoza of California’s 18th Congressional District resigned from office on Tuesday, effective today. While Rep. Cardoza cited the priority of his family for his immediate resignation, he has also cited partisan gridlock as a contributing factor. He is considered a “Blue Dog” Democrat, a term used to describe moderates within the party.
Rep. Cardoza originally announced his intent to retire back in October of 2011, and never intended to run for re-election during the 2012 cycle. That announcement came after the 2011 Congressional redistricting plan was finalized by California Citizens Redistricing Commission, which put incumbents in challenging positions. Had he have ran for reelection it likely would have been against fellow Democrat Rep. Jim Costa.
Instead of finishing out his term, his resignation leaves his congressional seat empty until January 2013.
The Sacramento Bee quoted Rep. Cardoza regarding his resignation stating:
In light of the fact that nothing is going to happen for the rest of the year, and in light of the fact that (my wife) and I are facing increasing parenting challenges, this seemed the right time to make this move.
When Rep. Cardoza says “nothing is going to happen for the rest of the year,” he’s making a statement regarding the lack of consensus or urgency to pass legislation. A budget for fiscal year 2013 has not yet been agreed on, but talks of a six-month plan will resume when Congress comes back into session. The six-month plan proposed by leaders is seen as holding off a permanent, more meaningful budget. Congress continues to face such issues as the Farm Bill proposal, legislation targeting the ailing Postal Service, and the battle over Bush-era tax cuts, scheduled to expire in January.
Gridlock on policy solutions comes from both a Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a Democratic-held Senate. With both parties splitting legislative control and an increasing lack of consensus, Rep. Cardoza seems to view his time in Congress to be without purpose.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is adamant about winning back Democratic control of the House with her “Drive for 25” mission. Now that Rep. Cardoza has resigned, the party will need to battle for his vacancy. The vacancy and absence of a special election to fill it leaves the House at a 240-190 Republican-Democrat ratio for now. RealClearPolitics.com projects that safe House seats for the parties are 229-183, in favor of Republicans. They also cite 23 toss-up seats that could go either way, but even according to this projection, the Democratic party cannot regain a House majority.
Rep. Dennis Cardoza resigns at age 53 and has “expressed interest in potentially serving on some corporate boards and in investment banking”. Last month, Rep. Steve LaTourette of Ohio decided to retire after his current term, citing a “toxic partisan atmosphere”. Moderates from both parties are seeing their efforts as futile as well. Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson and Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe announced their retirements following the 2012 elections, also expressing frustration with partisanship.
With Rep. Dennis Cardoza’s resignation, we are seeing partisanship take a toll on lawmakers themselves. It is a trend in politics today, both polarization and the frustration with polarization. While Cardoza’s statement may seem cynical, perhaps he feels he can be more productive outside of politics.