Commentary's Tobin: GOP Should Be Wary of Democrats House Push

Tuesday, 07 Jan 2014 04:02 AM

By Elliot Jager

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While political operatives do not expect Democrats to win back the House in 2014, the decision of some GOP incumbents to retire or seek higher office should make Republicans take notice, writes Jonathan Tobin in Commentary.  
"Putting together majorities in either the House or the Senate requires a mix of luck, good candidate recruitment, and fundraising," writes Tobin, Commentary's chief political editor.

Senate Democrats are defending more seats. And longtime Democratic incumbents in red states are retiring thus raising prospects that the upper chamber could flip to the Republicans.

Nevertheless, Republicans enjoyed comparable scenarios in 2010 and 2012 that did not pan out because of poor candidates and, in some races, campaigning by President Barack Obama, Tobin says.

Some soon-to-be-vacated Republican House seats like those of Pennsylvania's Jim Gerlach, New Jersey's Jon Runyan, and Virginia's Frank Wolf are not sure bets for the GOP.

Though Gerlach's 6th district was redrawn by Pennsylvania's Republican-controlled legislature to minimize the numbers of Democratic voters, the constituency will nevertheless be a "battleground" in 2014, writes Tobin.

And it does not help that conservative Republican Governor Tom Corbet, at the top of the
ticket, is facing an uphill reelection battle.

Moreover, Gerlach's district has become more demographically diverse and less white with Democrats also making inroads among "swing groups, especially middle-class white women, who have been influenced by liberal rhetoric about the so-called Republican war on women," writes Tobin.

The larger lesson of Gerlach's departure is that it's "bad news for a party that needs its incumbents to stay put every bit as much as their rivals need theirs to remain in office."
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