“This race will be competitive next fall, giving Democrats a chance to win a district they haven’t held since 1983.”
House Republicans were dealt a “stunning blow” by Congresswoman Susan Brooks’ retirement, and the pain for the GOP has only increased as independent political handicappers have upgraded Democratic chances in Indiana’s 5th District – a heavily suburban district that has been trending away from Republicans.
In the aftermath of that announcement, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, the Cook Political Report, and Inside Elections have upgraded Democratic chances in the district – and local and national pundits agree that the 5th District will be in play next November as the House GOP continues to stumble.
Here’s what they’re saying:
Rep. Susan Brooks has decided not to seek reelection in 2020, a stunning blow for House Republicans who had chosen her to lead recruitment in their attempt to claw back the majority.
Still, the decision — which came as a surprise to many in Republican and Democratic circles — creates an opening for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is targeting her seat for the first time this year.
Brooks told The Indianapolis Star, which first reported the news on Friday, that she realizes it’s not what GOP leaders wanted to hear but that it’s the right decision for her.
Republicans initially scoffed when the DCCC added Brooks to a “Retirement watch” list earlier this year.
But Democrats believe the district — which has been held by Republicans since the ‘90s — could be swinging in their favor, with a younger and wealthier voting base.
DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos (D-Il.) said Brooks’ retirement is “the clearest evidence yet that Washington Republicans efforts to retake the majority are in a tailspin.”
Cook Political Report: IN-05 Moves to Lean Republican Followings Brooks’s Retirement
The announcement Friday morning that Indiana GOP Rep. Susan Brooks won’t run for re-election moves her suburban Indianapolis seat from Solid Republican to the Lean Republican column and gives Democrats a pickup opportunity in the lone congressional district in the Hoosier State that’s been trending their way.
This growing district just north of Indianapolis gave President Trump 53% in 2016 — his lowest total in any Indiana district he won — and down from the nearly 58% that Mitt Romney got here in 2012. Brooks, the former deputy mayor of Indianapolis, has been easily re-elected, taking 57% last November. In 2016, she outperformed Trump by 9 points. The Hamilton County base of the district, which makes up over 40% of the district’s population, has also been trending away from Republicans, given its increasing income and education levels. In 2012 Romney got 66% in Hamilton, but Trump got just 57% four years later.
In making her announcement to the Indianapolis Star, Brooks tries to dispel what will be the obvious conclusions drawn from her decision — that she’s leaving because life in the minority is no fun and she doesn’t think they can win back the majority in 2020.
Regardless, this race will be competitive next fall, giving Democrats a chance to win a district they haven’t held since 1983.
The Democratic Congressional Committee is targeting Indiana’s 5th District, a longtime GOP stronghold, for the first time as younger, more moderate voters are moving out of Indianapolis into the suburbs. An open seat will likely give Democrats a better chance at picking up the district, which President Donald Trump carried by 12 points in 2016.
Former Indiana Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, who lost statewide by 6 points last fall, narrowly carried the district. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales has shifted the rating of the district from Solid Republican to Likely Republican in response to Brooks’ decision.