Three seasoned GOP lawmakers – Reps. Darrell Issa of California, John Mica of Florida and Scott Garrett of New Jersey – are in re-election fights that if lost on Nov. 8 will obliterate 54 years of Capitol Hill experience, The Hill reports.
According to The Hill, with Donald Trump trailing in national polling, Democrats are drilling down to capitalize on down-ballot House races – and pick off a few House veterans.
"Democrats have been pushing the idea that safe Republicans are in jeopardy in an attempt to distract from the fact that they failed to recruit viable candidates in the competitive seats they needed to win in order to gain back the majority," Katie Martin, spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, told The Hill.
Mica believes it's political "retribution."
"They have it in for both Darrell and I," Mica told The Hill. "We're two senior members on the Oversight Committee, and "I'm sure we've been a thorn in the Obama administration's side. This is their time for retribution."
Topping the Democrats' list of targets is conservative Issa, the former head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee who led probes of the IRS, the 2012 Benghazi attacks and the Justice Department's "Fast and Furious" gunrunning operation, which ended with then-Attorney General Eric Holder being held in contempt of Congress.
His challenger, retired Marine Col. Doug Applegate, however, is focusing criticism on Issa not rebuking Trump amid sexual harassment allegations, The Hill reports.
Mica, meanwhile, a former Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman who was elected to the House the same year Bill Clinton won the White House, is being challenged by newcomer Stephanie Murphy, who's hitting the lawmaker for being in Washington too long.
"She's a straw candidate put up by [House Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi and the Democratic leadership," Mica told The Hill.
"I have taken eight weeks of battering that very few politicians could withstand. Go take a look — it's $3 million in negative ads," Mica added. "We took some broadsides, but now we're in the game. Now we're firing back."
Garrett, a member of the hard-right Freedom Caucus, represents the north tip of New Jersey that voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, is now facing a stiff challenge from Josh Gottheimer, a fundraiser and former Bill Clinton speechwriter.
Garrett created a furor in 2015 by refusing to contribute campaign dues to the NRCC over the party's support of gay candidates – and Democrats have played off the issue in a new attack ad criticizing him for being out of touch with his constituency, The Hill reports.
A spokesman for Gottheimer told The Hill, however, Trump's provocative statements about women are also helping the Democrats' campaign.
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