Democratic North Carolina Representative G.K. Butterfield has officially announced his retirement Thursday, according to a report from The Associated Press.
“It is time for me to retire and allow the torch to be passed to someone who shares the values of the district and can continue the work I have labored so hard for the past 18 years,” Butterfield announced in a video posted to his official YouTube channel.
“I am proud of my work in Congress on behalf of my constituents, and I know that my life’s work of fighting for greater fairness and equity will not cease, even after the close of the 117th Congress,” Butterfield added.
Butterfield was elected to the House of Representatives in a special election in 2004, representing North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. He is the Senior Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus, appointed this year to replace the late Congressman John Lewis. He currently serves on the House Energy & Commerce and Administration Committees. He also served stints on the House Armed Services, Agriculture, and Ethics Committees. Notably, he served as the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus from 2015 to 2017.
Before he made the announcement officially, there was significant speculation from local news outlets that Butterfield was considering retirement. Butterfield was used to winning his district by comfortable margins, but because of redistricting, his race has become a toss-up, since a smaller share of the black voters who propelled him to those margins will be included in the redrawn district. “While I am hopeful that the courts will ultimately overturn this partisan map and see that a fair map is enacted, I have made the difficult decision that I will not seek reelection to the United States House of Representatives,” Butterfield said in his retirement announcement.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Butterfield is “an esteemed and effective leader” and “a lifelong advocate for civil rights … spearheading initiatives to create jobs and fight poverty in Black communities and driving progress within our own institution, including legislation to remove statues of those who fought in the Confederacy from the halls of the U.S. Capitol.”
Butterfield is the latest veteran member of Congress to retire. Fifteen other House Democrats have announced that they will not seek re-election in 2022, according to the AP, including California Representative Jackie Speier, Butterfield’s North Carolina colleague, Rep. David Price, and Kentucky Congressman House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth. Longtime Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy (D) also announced his retirement Monday.
The slew of veteran retirements indicate that Democrats are bracing for a Republican “red wave” election in the 2022 midterms, as President Biden’s approval ratings dip into the 30s, according to legacy media polls, as the GOP takes a significant lead in the generic ballot, nearly a year before voters head to the polls, and as Republicans flip local and statewide elections, including the Virginia Governor, Lt. Governor, and House of Delegates races.
Republican National Committee spokeswoman Alex Nolley told the AP that Butterfield’s retirement is more evidence that “the red wave is coming to North Carolina” in 2022.