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Half the members leaving the House are running for governor

While many members of Congress are preparing for their 2018 re-election races, half of the 18 members leaving the House of Representatives next year are now eyeing a gubernatorial run in their home states, according to a Politico report.

As some are looking to escape the Washington gridlock to help shape policy at home, there are some risks in leaving the comfort of the House.  Politico reports that the last time this many sitting representatives had run for governor, which was back in 2006, twice as many candidates lost as won. 

The sudden surge of those looking for a gubernatorial seat can probably in part be attributed to the Republican hold on the presidency, the House and the Senate. Members of the Democratic minority may be feeling they can more effective from home. 

Rob Richie, Executive Director for FairVote, a non-partisan advocacy group focusing on electoral reform, told CBS News that the rise in House members on the Democratic side making a leap for the governor's mansion may also be due to financial factors and overall political impact. 

The biggest factors, he said, are "the allure for Democrats of establishing themselves as national leaders in an era of a thin gubernatorial bench, the increased money for campaigns associated with the awareness of how important governors are to federal and state partisan control -- as affected by redistricting in 2021 -- and the breakdown of the House as a well-functioning governing body."

The ability to impact those redistricting efforts has moved to the forefront for those in the Democratic party in making new gains across the country.  A new Democratic group led by former Attorney General Eric Holder is now focusing on redistricting challenges to counter political advances Republicans have made since the 2010 census and the redrawing of electoral districts that followed.

Richie adds that if more ex-House members are elected governor, it could encourage a national conversation about fair House elections. 

"Governors on their own can advance that idea, too, by calling for congressional election or proposing interstate compacts with other states so that a group of states can be fair together in giving their voters a level playing field in House races."

Joe Rassenfoss of the Western Governors' Association echoed the benefits of governors working to shape national policy, saying, "Each executive department and agency should have a clear and accountable process to provide states with early, meaningful and substantive input in the development of regulatory policies

In a recent letter sent to a White House official, the association asserted that they "believe realigning the relationship of the federal government and states so that it operates as a true partnership is one of the most important reforms the President could undertake."

It's a sentiment also shared the by the collective voice of the nation's governors.

"The desire of many House members to run for governor of their states shows how critically important and influential governors in our country have become, " said Scott Pattison, executive director and CEO of the National Governors Association, in a statement to CBS News. "Governors of the states are effective policymakers and moving the needle every day for their citizens."

For those running, it's also a chance to use their Washington expertise in stopping legislation that negatively impacts their constituents. 

"It's a good partnership to have folks who have federal experience, have relationships here but can be the governor of their states so they don't execute some of these federal changes in a way that harms their citizens," said Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-New Mexico, who announced in December that she would run for governor in 2018. 

New Beginning by Michelle Lujan Grisham on YouTube

Besides Grisham's run, 2018 contenders on the Democratic side include Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz and Colorado Rep. Jared Polis. Two former house members, Gwen Graham of Florida and Betty Sutton of Ohio are also running in their states

Meanwhile, Republicans hoping to aid in and implement the Trump administration's policies are looking to do so on the state level. 

"Republican governors are taking action, making the tough decisions and achieving results - those results are harder to point to as a member of Congress, and I think a lot of House Reps are fed up with DC," Republican Governors Association spokesman Jon Thomspson told CBS News in a statement.

He added, "They want to get in on the action in the states, where true conservative reform is taking place."

Republican gubernatorial candidates for 2018 include Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee, South Dakota Rep. Kristi Noem, Grisham's New Mexico challenger Steve Pearce, Ohio Rep. Jim Renacci and Idaho's Raul Labrador. 

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