New York’s Rice, who opposed Pelosi as leader, decides to retire

Decision means three Long Island seats will be open in November

Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., will not run for a fifth term.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., will not run for a fifth term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted February 15, 2022 at 1:59pm

Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice, a former prosecutor who bucked her colleagues’ choice of Nancy Pelosi as leader, announced Tuesday she would not seek a fifth term. She’s the third lawmaker from New York’s Long Island, and the 30th House Democrat nationally, to not seek reelection this year.

“Though I will not be running for re-election to Congress this year, I will remain focused on protecting our democracy and serving my constituents throughout the rest of my term,” Rice, 57, said in a statement shared on Twitter. “As I turn to the next chapter of my own personal and professional story, I do so with profound thanks to the community leaders, colleagues and staff who have lived our shared commitment to service with courage and humility.”

As with other announcements by House Democrats that they would not run again, the National Republican Congressional Committee cast Rice’s decision as a sign that incumbents foresee the GOP netting the five seats needed to take House control in November.

While she was an NRCC target for defeat, Rice’s seat did not appear vulnerable after redistricting by New York’s Democratic-controlled Legislature. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the 4th District as Solid Democratic. The redrawn district would have voted for President Joe Biden 55 percent to 44 percent. 

A former prosecutor and Nassau County district attorney, Rice is vice chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and sits on the Energy and Commerce and Homeland Security committees. 

Rice challenged Pelosi throughout her tenure, voting for Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan as minority leader after the 2016 election and against Pelosi’s successful bid for the speakership in 2019 after Democrats took back control of the House.

In explaining her vote for Ryan to be Democratic leader in 2017, Rice said Pelosi’s leadership team was preventing newer members from participating and “stunting not just people moving up the ladder here, but also getting people the experience they need to build a bench.” She was joined in that vote by Tennessee Rep. Jim Cooper, who also is retiring. Ryan, meanwhile, is running for Senate. 

Rice supported Pelosi for speaker in 2021, given Democrats' tight margins, but continued her crusade against leadership in other ways. Last year, she was one of a handful of Democrats who forced the party to rein in a proposal to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices. She also demanded a vote on a resolution she sponsored to require an annual "Fiscal State of the Nation" report in exchange for her vote to lift the debt ceiling.

Two other Long Island representatives, Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin, who represents the 1st District, and Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi, who represents the 3rd District, are running for governor rather than the House. 

“Rep. Rice has dedicated over three decades to public service, rising up the legal and political ranks from prosecutor to district attorney to United States representative,” New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement.