House Democrats are jumping ship — suggesting a growing concern within the party that winning back the majority in 2012 will be a difficult task.

Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank’s announcement Monday that he’s stepping aside after more than three decades in office makes him the latest in what is quickly becoming a long line of Democrats to say they will not seek reelection.

No one is writing off the possibility that Democrats will win back the House, but party officials say the political environment isn’t quite ripe for a takeover. And they say the prospect of a drawn-out stay in the minority gives members little incentive to wage expensive and hard-fought campaigns.

The Democratic retirements extend to the highest ranks of the party. Frank, the top Democrat on the Financial Services Committee, made his announcement just days after Texas Rep. Charles Gonzalez, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said he will not run again in 2012. Both are veterans: Frank, the iconic and outspoken liberal, has spent 16 terms in Congress; Gonzalez entered the House in 1999, assuming the seat his father, former Rep. Henry Gonzalez, had held since the early 1960s.

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