Non-Returning Rural Representatives
A rundown of which rural representatives are leaving office, regulating biotech in food production, and a brief respite in the “War on Coal™”
People don’t stay Congress forever, although sometimes it seems that way. The Hill, a good publication that covers the federal government, keeps track of people leaving Congress for one reason or another. We decided to see which representatives from predominantly rural Congressional districts were scheduled to depart in the coming year.
The Hill currently lists 32 House members who won’t be running for re-election in 2016. You can find the full list here.
On average, rural representatives make up 19 percent of the population of Congressional districts. By our count, 13 of those representatives who are leaving office come from districts with a rural population greater than the national average. Included on this list of rural retirees is former House Speaker John Boehner.
Four come from districts where more than half the population is rural. Rep. Chris Gibson, a New York Republican, represents the most rural district. At last count, his district (which includes Woodstock) is 63 percent rural.
Gibson is a specialist on national security issues, but he has supported expanded access to broadband and better treatment for Lyme disease. Gibson is leaving office after three terms because he advocates term limits.
Rep. Dan Benishek is a Republican representing the sprawling district that covers the top of Michigan’s “mitt” and the Upper Peninsula. The First District is the largest east of the Mississippi River and is 63 percent rural. Benishek, who was active in veterans’ issues, is also leaving after three terms because he advocates term limits
Rep. Ed Whitfield is a Republican representing Western Kentucky. His district is also 63 percent rural. Whitfield has been in Congress since 1995 and is retiring.
Whitfield has opposed President Obama’s restrictions on burning fossil fuels and he helped create a national recreation area in the Land Between the Lakes region of Kentucky.
Rep. Alan Nunnelee represented the northeastern quadrant of Mississippi, which is 57 percent rural. Rep. Nunnellee, a Republican, died this year.
Nunnelee was born in Tupelo and was first elected in a special election in 1995.
The other departing members who come from rural districts are:
- Rep. Aaron Schock, Republican, from the 18th district of Illinois, 38 percent rural.
- Rep. Candice Miller, Republican, from the 10th district of Michigan, 36 percent rural.
- Rep. Todd Young, Republican, from the 9th district of Indiana, 35 percent rural.
- Rep. Cynthia Lummis, Wyoming’s lone representative; the state is 35 percent rural.
- Rep. Marlin Stutzman, Republican, from the 3rd district of Indiana, 35 percent rural.
- Rep. Rich Nugent, Republican, from the 11th district of Florida, 26 percent rural.
- Rep. Randy Neugebauer, Republican, from the 19th district of Texas, 25 percent rural.
- Rep. John Boehner, Republican and former House Speaker, from the 8th district of Ohio, 24 percent rural.
A consortium of enviro and food groups is calling for a new system for regulating biotechnology in food production.
Seven groups (including Food and Water Watch and Friends of the Earth) are asking for mandatory labels for genetically engineered food; protection against more use of pesticides; protections for farmers who don’t use GE products; and mandatory safety testing.
The Obama administration is currently reexamining the biotech regulations that exist, reports Chris Clayton at DTN. The administration hopes to have new regs in the next year.
Seems to us that something else is happening in the next year…like a presidential election. Could this be an issue to watch?
The so-called “war on coal” “is largely taking a back seat in the Republican race for the White House,” reports Timothy Cama in The Hill.
Apparently we have our millenials to thank (or blame) for this respite. Cama reports that “talking about coal isn’t the best way to appeal to younger voters…” And, besides, coal may be important in a few states, it doesn’t mean much nationally.
“It seems that just intoning ‘war on coal’ is only good politics in Appalachia — and a few other places like Wyoming — and Republican politicians still use that language there, but they probably feel they have little to gain by framing things in those terms at the national level,” said Philip Wallach of the Brookings Institution.