Gray power in November elections

Politicians, particularly House members facing a tough reelection race this year, would do well to check out the number of federal retirees, spouses and survivors in their districts. Especially in California, Texas, Florida, Virginia, Maryland but also in places that don’t seem obvious like Oklahoma, North and South Carolina and Pennsylvania where redistricting has been ordered.

House Republicans made federal workers and retirees prime targets for much of 2017. While they batted zero for the legislative year, they scared the wits out of many people. There were serious efforts to raise the cost (while reducing the benefits) of the dominate FERS retirement program, to financially penalize those retiring before age 62 — even if their high-stress, dangerous jobs force them to retire at 57. They also took a shot at eliminating any future cost-of-living adjustments for present and future FERS retirees while trimming them 0.5 percent each January for those under the more generous CSRS program. Fortunately for members of the federal family, they failed, but not for lack of trying. While making enemies in much of the federal retiree community.

This year, the White House has kicked off a new assault. It is proposing a zero pay raise for January 2019 for civilian workers and cuts in the FERS program. Not the best political move if you are facing a tough reelection fight this year in a district, or state, where former civil servants — all of whom are old enough to vote — are residents. And registered.

In many communities, whether limited to the 55-plus age group or living in the general community, retired feds and spouses are among the most financially secure, best educated and best-trained. And unlike when they were employed and moderately constrained by the Hatch “no politics” Act, they are politically ready to rumble.

Look at the numbers: There are 168,000 federal and postal retirees in California and another 46,500 survivors of feds. That’s a total of 215,000-plus people. Very likely most of them are regular voters too.

Texas has 176,000 retired feds and Florida’s population of 179,000 grows by the day. Blue state Maryland has 164,000 retirees while Trending Purple Virginia has 145,000 and growing. D.C., which voted 95 percent for Clinton over Trump in 2016, is home to 44,000.

Arizona has 58,000 plus retirees and those receiving survivor annuities. Colorado, 52,000. Georgia, 88,000; Hawaii, 25,000; Illinois 70,200; Indiana, 38,000 and Kentucky 34,000. Massachusetts 42,000; Michigan, 46,000; Minnesota, 30,000 and Mississippi, 26,000. Missouri, 55,000 plus; New Jersey, 53,000 and New York,9 4,000. Oklahoma 48,000; Pennsylvania, 110,000; South Carolina, 46,000 and North Carolina, 78,000. Washington, 69,000 and Tennessee, 48,000. Utah and Alabama, which also have large numbers of active duty feds have 35,000 and 60,000 retirees, respectively. Even low population states like West Virginia (19,000) and Vermont (4,700), have a relatively large number of former feds.

Politicians who can’t wait to come back to the D.C.-swamp they run against might want to consider poking this particular bee hive this particular year.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Michael O’Connell

American adults average 6.8 hours of sleep a night.

Source: Gallup