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Democrats Ready to Pounce on GOP House Seats

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Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M. (AP) 

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Monday, 20 Jun 2016 02:31 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Encouraged by what he claims are Republicans sick of Donald Trump, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Lujan last week spelled out a strategy to take the House this fall by focusing on Republican-held seats.

With Republicans holding a healthy 247 to 188 seat majority in the House of Representatives, the DCCC has released a list of 31 “Red to Blue Seats.” These are the seats the party’s congressional campaign arm is now focused on, a spokeswoman explained, and the “Red to Blue” program introduces “Democratic supporters to new, competitive candidates in order to help expand the fundraising base for these campaigns.”

The spokeswoman declined to say if any were of the Republican-held seats were part of a smaller “top five” or “top ten” target list.

However, at a press breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor in Washington D.C., Lujan and DCCC Political Director Kelly Ward did spell out several suburban districts in GOP hands that had long been considered invulnerable to Democratic attack but were now major priorities for a Democratic assault.

The reason: Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

“The same voters that are creating those opportunities for us and making those districts competitive are those that like Donald Trump the least,” Ward told us.

She specifically cited “districts like Minnesota-3 [held by GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen and held without interruption by Republicans for 56 years], New Jersey-5 [held by Rep. Scott Garrett and in GOP hands for 36 unbroken years], and new suburban districts that are new for those of us who watched the House battlefields over the past couple of cycles.”

Ward went on to explain that controversy surrounding Trump “gives us the ability to push into what is traditionally your ‘lean Republican’ kinds of districts . . . that now becomes the hard core battlefield where we can litigate the conversation that voters will be hearing, building off the presidential election.”

Other Republican-held districts she cited that are suddenly competitive battlegrounds were Kansas’ 3rd District held by Rep. Kevin Yoder and Wisconsin’s 8th District, where Rep. Reid Ribble is retiring after three terms and which has sent a Republican to Congress for all but eight of the last 62 years.

“That’s a ‘lean Republican’ district,” Ward said, “There’s something happening. President Obama has performed well there in the past. We have a terrific candidate who is motivated partially by the rhetoric from Donald Trump.”

Lujan weighed in on New Jersey’s Garrett and hailed his Democratic opponent Josh Gottheimer. In the DCCC chief’s words, Gottheimer “has continued to hold Scott Garrett accountable every step of the way [for] discriminatory remarks Garrett said to the effect that the NRCC supported gay candidates running for Congress and that he would — or it was reported he said — he would not give money to the NRCC because they supported gay candidates.

“So Josh, who has continued to earn the trust and support of voters, has put together one of the strongest campaigns in the country. Donald Trump continuing to say the kinds of things he says has only shined a spotlight on the things Scott Garrett has said.”

“We will beat Scott Garrett in November of this year,” Lujan predicted flatly.

Lujan recalled a poll commissioned in February of this year by House Speaker Paul Ryan and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., showing that “by 48 percent to 40 percent, a plurality of Republican voters was less likely to support the Republican down ballot if Donald Trump is the nominee.”

Since then, he added, “In the same breath where Republican after Republican has called Donald Trump a racist, a bigot, or said what he said was textbook racism — but said they would vote for him anyway.

“I translate that into saying that they would rather vote for a racist over anybody else . . . These are Republicans across America and we will continue to reach out to those who have registered as Republicans who are sick and tired of what they hear from Donald Trump.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.



 

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Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Lujan last week spelled out a strategy to take the House this fall by focusing on Republican-held seats.
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2016-31-20
Monday, 20 Jun 2016 02:31 PM
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