Tags: gop | senate | races

Economic Woes Drive GOP Recruitment Up

Thursday, 09 Jul 2009 12:19 PM

By Dan Weil

Economic woes always provide opportunities for the party out of power to make headway in the next election. And that’s no different this time around as Republicans gird up for 2010 races.

The Republican Party is having its best luck attracting strong candidates in years, as GOP politicians see enhanced chances for victory, The Hill reports.

A stubborn recession, near collapse of the financial system, volatile financial markets, unemployment at 9.5 percent and a fiscal stimulus package struggling to gain traction don’t exactly provide the strongest platform for Democrats.

The GOP scored two recruiting coups this week, as New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte and Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill, entered high-profile Senate races in their states.

And just as Republicans are sticking their hats in the political ring, many Democrats are withdrawing.

Two strong potential Senate candidates have stepped out of their races: Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin of South Dakota.

In Illinois, Kirk’s announcement came just after Madigan’s decision to withdraw. She would have been a strong favorite for the Senate seat formerly held by President Obama.

The White House, including Obama himself, leaned on Madigan hard to run, but she decided to seek reelection as attorney general instead.

The sinking popularity of Obama and the Democrats is encouraging Republicans.

“They’re getting candidates, and the polling numbers seem to be changing — not so much that it’s pro-Republican as it is anti-Democrat,” Atlanta-based Republican consultant David Johnson tells The Hill.

“It could change, but it’s beginning to feel a lot like 2006 and 2008 did for the Democrats.”

The Republican momentum comes squarely from the economic mess. That is the focus of the new candidates.

Republicans already sitting in Congress are working hard against a second fiscal stimulus package.

“All of this talk of a second stimulus bill, I think, is an admission on the part of the administration that their stimulus plan is not working,” House Minority Leader John Boehner told reporters.

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