NRCC Releases 2018 Targets

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 10, 2017 — In late January the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) released their list of 59 current Republican House targets, and now the GOP committee leadership has countered in publicizing their own group of 36 politically marginal Democratic incumbents.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) released the targets this week, and their primary offensive list is not particularly surprising. It naturally includes the 12 Democratic districts that President Trump carried, before adding two dozen of which some are certainly more vulnerable than others.

The 12 in Trump D Districts are:

• Tom O’Halleran (AZ-1)
• Cheri Bustos (IL-17)
• Dave Loebsack (IA-2)
• Tim Walz (MN-1)
• Collin Peterson (MN-7)
• Rick Nolan (MN-8)
• Jacky Rosen (NV-3)
• Carol Shea-Porter (NH-1)
• Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5)
• Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18)
• Matt Cartwright (PA-17)
• Ron Kind (WI-3)

Representatives O’Halleran, Gottheimer, and Rosen are freshmen. O’Halleran won the Arizona seat that former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) released when she ran for Senate. Rep. Gottheimer defeated veteran Congressman Scott Garrett (R) in the northern New Jersey district. Rep. Rosen converted the Republican district that Congressman Joe Heck (R-Henderson) represented before running for the Senate. Both Kirkpatrick and Heck were unsuccessful in their statewide quests.

The most vulnerable of this Trump D group will likely be Rep. Shea-Porter, who represents the eastern New Hampshire district. These Granite State voters have defeated more incumbents since 2006 – including Shea-Porter twice – than any CD in the country. Her scant 2016 one-point victory over a politically damaged incumbent Frank Guinta (R-Manchester) suggests that the congresswoman, a freshman for the third time, will again be a major Republican target.

There could be several open seats within this group of Trump Democratic districts because Representatives Bustos, Walz, and Nolan have all indicated that they are considering a run for governor in their respective states.

The biggest included surprise district is Pennsylvania Rep. Cartwright’s 17th CD. Drawn by Republicans as an eastern state Democratic enclave, President Trump, nonetheless, scored a 10-point victory here, which is one of the fundamental reasons that he carried the Keystone State.

The remaining two dozen targets, all representing seats that Hillary Clinton won, are as follows:

• Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-9)
• Ami Bera (CA-7)
• Salud Carbajal (CA-24)
• Raul Ruiz (CA-36)
• Scott Peters (CA-52)
• Ed Perlmutter (CO-7)
• Joe Courtney (CT-2)
• Elizabeth Esty (CT-5)
• Stephanie Murphy (FL-7)
• Charlie Crist (FL-13)
• John Delaney (MD-6)
• Bill Keating (MA-9)
• Dan Kildee (MI-5)
• Sander Levin (MI-9)
• Ruben Kihuen (NV-4)
• Ann Kuster (NH-2)
• Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-1)
• Ben Lujan (NM-3)
• Tom Suozzi (NY-3)
• Tim Ryan (OH-13)
• Peter DeFazio (OR-4)
• Kurt Schrader (OR-5)
• Derek Kilmer (WA-6)
• Denny Heck (WA-10)

We could see a number of open seats within this group, too. Representatives Perlmutter (CO), Kildee (MI), and Ryan (OH) are all considering gubernatorial bids. Lujan Grisham (NM) has already announced that she will run for governor.

Representatives Carbajal and Murphy are the only freshmen on this list. Carbajal succeeded now retired Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara), while Murphy upset Rep. John Mica (R-Winter Park) in a district that had been reconfigured in the court-ordered mid-decade Florida redistricting plan.

The Connecticut members are on the list because President Trump ran surprisingly well in their districts. The California seats are included because Republican House candidates ran close in each of these districts, as they normally do, but it is unlikely any of the Golden State incumbents will be defeated. Former Rep. David Jolly (R-FL) is openly discussing seeking a re-match with freshman representative and former Florida governor, Charlie Crist.

The remaining members must be considered long shots for defeat at best.

Just entering February of the off year, we are already seeing the House political battlefield involving 95 districts forming for the 2018 mid-term election campaign season.

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