Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee announced Tuesday that he will not seek reelection this year, making him the 29th House Democrat to leave Congress after this year’s mid-term election cycle.
Mr. Cooper, 67, who represents his state’s 5th Congressional District, made the announcement after Tennessee’s Republican-controlled General Assembly approved a redistricting map that would separate his Nashville-area district into three congressional districts.
“Despite my strength at the polls, I could not stop the General Assembly from dismembering Nashville,” Mr. Cooper said in a statement. “No one tried harder to keep our city whole. I explored every possible way, including lawsuits, to stop the gerrymandering and to win one of the three new congressional districts that now divide Nashville. There’s no way, at least for me in this election cycle, but there may be a path for other worthy candidates.”
Community activist and executive director Odessa Kelly of the organization Stand Up Nashville launched a primary bid against Mr. Cooper in late October. Ms. Kelly will now be running in the 6th Congressional District since the remapping.
Mr. Cooper was elected to Congress in 1982 and is a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, as well as chairman on the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces. Mr. Cooper also sits on the Committee on Oversight and Reform as well as the House Budget Committee.
“After 32 years in office, I will be leaving Congress next year,” Mr. Cooper said in a tweet. “I cannot thank the people of Nashville enough. You backed me more than almost anyone in Tennessee history.”
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Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney thanked Mr. Cooper for being “a stalwart champion for the working families of Nashville and beyond.”
“From his contributions to the fight for voting rights to his dedication to keeping our fiscal house in order, Jim’s passion for good governance shines through in everything he does,” Mr. Maloney said in a statement.
So far, 12 House Republicans have decided not to run for reelection.
In 2010, the last time Republicans captured the House majority, 17 incumbent Democrats retired, compared with 20 GOP lawmakers. In 2018, when House Democrats recaptured the majority from Republicans, 18 Democrats did not seek reelection, compared with 37 Republicans.
Republicans see the growing number of Democratic retirements as a sign that the Democratic Party’s agenda is scaring away veteran lawmakers.
“Democrats’ retirement crisis shows no signs of slowing down. No one wants to run on Democrats’ radical agenda of violent crime, open borders, and skyrocketing prices,” said National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Camille Gallo in a statement.