20 key House recruiting priorities.

On the whole Democrats are doing exceptionally well when it comes to House Challenger recruitment. By my count there are already 45 districts in which well-established challengers could potentially win.   Additionally Democrats have another five districts in which challengers are pretty close to declaring and if such challengers declared would also make these very competitive. This amounts to already 50 potential wins.  While this is very good news, I believe there are about twenty more districts in which a Democrat could win if a proper challenger would emerge . With any luck we should be looking at 70 Republicans or more than 1/3 of the Republican House Caucus on the Run.  The twenty districts in need of a challenger are on the flip with brief explanations of each. It is also extremely important to remember challenger does not have to mean extremely well funded, well connected party insider or self-funder.  In 2006 we won with many first time , regular people who worked very hard. We need just as many Tim Walz's, as Nick Lampson's.  

1.    PA 6
        This is the most surprising of  the districts to currently be without a challenger  in Jim Gerlach entire career in Congress he has never gotten above 52% of the vote. His district is only 1 of 8 remaining districts that voted for Kerry and in sending a Republican to Congress. I have heard in and out many names floated but as of yet have not heard of a declared challenger. I imagine that should not last long but still until it is rectified it is clearly the biggest problem district out there.

2.    IL 6
This district was  waiting on Tammy Duckworth decision of whether to run against Peter Roskam or not, now that the decision has been made. Democrats are in need of a new candidate.  Peter Roskam only got 51% in a district that only gave George Bush  53%. This could well be Obama territory and not having a House Challenger would be shame.

3.    DE AL
This district has been held extremely well held by Republican Michael Castle for a relatively long time and will be an extremely difficult get and yet it is the most Democratic district of any held by  a Republican. So far no credible challenger has emerged but if one does Mike Castle can be beat.

4.    IL 18
This newly minted open seat should be of considerable value, while it is a generally tough district giving Bush 58 percent of the vote.  Its Republican Members of Congress have been more moderate than most. We need  a strong candidate in  this race as we should in all under 60 Bush open seats.

5. MN 3
 Jim Ramstad is defiantly a slippery customer who has a tendency to vote correctly on a number of occasions, and yet his district in Minnesota, like  the one now held by Congressman Tim Walz, barely gave the Republican any margin with which to work. Another earnest Minnesotan can and should make this race a real fight.  At the very least a challenge will make Jim Ramstad do the right thing more often.

6.    MI 11
This district seems to be one of utmost importance, it was one of the five
seriously under targeted in 2006.  The criteria are those races in which an incumbent is held to less than 55% while spending less than $ 500,000. The other four all seem to have challengers in place.  This district simply can not be left to go unchallenged.  It also gave George Bush only 53% of the vote. Simply put. We can beat Thaddeus McCotter.
7.    FL 10
 Bill Young  is the type of incumbent who needs pushing into retirement, his district only voted for the President 2004 by an exceptionally small margin and yet he has been re-elected by very large margins over and over. He is however quite old and a strong and declared challenger could make him think twice about running for re-election. Plus given his age, he could lose even if he does run for re-election
8.    NJ 3
    Jim Saxton sometimes talks like a moderate but is many ways a conservative, he was held to under 60% against a very under-funded  challenger in 2006 and represents another just Bush  win with roughly 51%, in 04 but which Gore won by near double-digits.  I heard rumors of state-senator John Adler getting into the race but until I hear more than rumors, we need a candidate.
9.    NY 3
There are only  six New York State Republican House members left and already four have challengers, and three have very serious challengers. There are still sadly two who lack the kind of challenger they need. Peter King's race is one of them. A very similar district to NJ 3 in that it went slightly for Bush in 04, but near double digits for Gore in 2000. All the other Long-Island district have fallen. A well place challenger should make this one fall as well.
10.    OH 12
The pattern should begin to be emerging, this is a district in which George Bush won by the slightest of margins with an incumbent who receive less than 60% in 2006. It was one of the better funded challenges though our candidate faced other obstancles. Given the still somewhat toxic environment for Republicans in Ohio, along with a Presidential year, Pat Tieberi is clearly vulnerable to the right kind of challenger.
11.    NY 13
    One of only Six Republican from New York, and one of only two without a challenger, this district showed a bigger Bush swing than NY 3, but also went for Gore by a similar amount. Vito Fossella represents Staten Island and Brooklyn. Steve Harrison on an extremely small budget held Vito to only 57% and therefore the right challenger should be able to win. New York could at the end of 2008 have no Republican left in the delegation and hopefully  with CT we can have a Republican free North East from New York to Maine.
12.    VA 2
    It is not the nature of the district but Thelma Drake's mediocre performance that have landed her on the hot heat, after winning the seat initially in 2004 with only 55% of 3  points behind Bush's take her 2006 performance of only 51% makes her in serious jeporardy  were a serious challenger to emerge. We need one, if only to help our 2008 VA Senate candidate.
13.    NJ 2
This is another barely won for Bush 2004, Gore much bigger Winner 2000, moderately Republican held districts, the reason it falls lower on the scale than NJ 2 is the Republican Frank LoBiondo holds up better than does Jim Saxton, and is also more politically strewed. Still a strong challenge here and it is a winnable race.
14.    Il 11
It is actually amazing to be that Jerry Weller is not considered more vulnerable given the fun he has with ethics and yet, his 55% win over very capable John Pavich indicated taking him out in a district that gave George Bush 53% will be difficult, but Illinois could be Obama country and the right challenger could have Weller's number.
15.  OH 3
Mike Turner sits on the type of district that swung well in  2006. It gave George Bush 54% of the vote in Dayton Ohio. It is not an easy sell and yet Mike Turner is not a long time member having only been recently elected in 2002.  He also was held to under 60% against a very late declaring challenger after a debacle with our first candidate. It is the type of district that could swing and therefore should be challeneged.
16.   IL 13
Judy Biggert sits on a moderately Republican districts in generally suburban Illinois The district gave George Bush about 53% of the vote, she has not often been challenged though she did  dip below 60 in the most recent election despite nominally funded opposition.  Seats in Illinois that fit this profile must have viable challengers as a Democratic winning 60% of the vote there in the Presidential is a real possibility[if you doubt, the Dem and Green got 60% against the last Republican to hold statewide office, so 60% is clearly possible]
17.  MI 8
Mike Rogers faced down with 55% a pretty good challenger in 2006 election, and yet the 54% that Bush got in the District in 2004 means it could flip.  It  was these Suburban leaner districts that made for the last 10 of the Democrats House wins, this district and PA 4 seems to have a possible similarities, the point is that there is simply no reason to give up here.
18.  MI 6
Fred Upton usually wins big  but the district is relatively moderate, giving George Bush 53%, it isn't a high priority but a challenger could win here.  If I had to guess I would say Both Stabenow and Granholm one this district. We need to compete here.
19. FL 18
One of the very few district in which the George Bush percentage dropped versus 2000, FL 18 is the most Democratic of the three Miami area Cuban district,  This district only gave George Bush 54% of the vote and while its Incumbent is well entrenched the right kind of challenger could move this district on the path to becoming Democratic.
20. MI 4
This district is mostly listed for the round number as Bush's 55 here, along with 61% by Dave Camp in 2006, does not give me much grounds for getting too excited and yet, 55% is not so larger as to give up hope. Dave Camp could be defeated if  a very high quality challenger were to emerge.

Tags: House Races 2008 (all tags)



Re: 20 key House recruiting priorities.

What a fantastic diary.  Lots of good info here and sound analysis.  Thanks for the hard work.

by Demo Dan in Dayton 2007-08-05 05:21PM | 0 recs
Some of these are good

A few are overly optimistic. I reckon that the safest of this list is, by far, Jim Ramstad. Sure, his 51% Bush district may say he's on thin ice, but given his profile as a moderate (which isn't too far from the truth). LoBiondo is another unlikely scenario for defeat in 2008, though challenging for his eventual retirement does say we should challenge him anyways. MI-06 and MI-04 are also pretty optimistic, especially 04, but we'll see how this plays out.

But this diary does highlight some very important challenges we need to take: PA-06, IL-06, VA-02, OH-03, OH-12, NY-03, NY-13, MI-11 and FL-10. I truely hope we have huge challenges in each of these.

by KainIIIC 2007-08-05 07:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Some of these are good

Jim Ramstad, is much more loved than Gil Kutknecht was? The point is certain type of districts vote out their Congress person for national not local reasons. Congress people are generally not well known enough to be beloved.

by Democraticavenger 2007-08-05 09:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Some of these are good

Easily. Often, people have trouble voting against "moderate" incumbents, and Ramstad certainly has the profile of being a moderate. According to the progressivepunch test, he scored a 20%, the highest of all Republicans in Minnesota (John Kline 3%, Norm Coleman 14%, and for the sake of comparison, ex-reps Mark Kennedy 6% and Gil Gutknecht 7%). That makes him, according to ranking system (and believe me, other ranking systems won't be very different), the 10th most progressive House Republican (and I really can't consider Ron Paul to be much of a progressive). He inhabits a swing district in suburban Minneapolis and has crushed all of his opponents handily. Wendy Wilde wasn't exactly your typical sacrificial sheep, as she was a radio host who actually raised money and campaigned strongly against Ramstad. But still, even in the worst of years in this swing district, Ramstad crushed her 65%-35%.

Sorry, but Ramstad is hopeless, and it would take a huge amount of resources and effort to beat a moderate Republican who we'll have an extremely hard time beating in the first place. My recommendation is here (assuming we win the governorship in '10) is, in redistricting, to make his district the safest for Republicans in Minnesota while allowing us to have good shots at taking Bachman and Kline's seats. Either that, or take a pretty vile approach by making a Minneapolis/Minnetonka(his residence) district forcing him to move or fight in an impossible district.

But I highly doubt we can actually take him out any time soon, barring a Mark Foley-like scandal.

by KainIIIC 2007-08-05 10:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Some of these are good

You think people in the district really understand he is more moderate. I mean think Nancy Johnson, the district is not that much more Republican and she still lost. Wendy Wilde raised 67,000 dollars which is joke for money in a Congressional race.

by Democraticavenger 2007-08-05 10:31PM | 0 recs

Ramstad definitely gets portrayed as a moderate in Minnesota media, but that doesn't mean we can't unseat him. One thing making it harder than Gutknecht, though, is that it will be considerably more expensive: Tim Walz was buying ads in TV markets with a town population of 20,000-90,000. To unseat Ramstad from his largely wealthy suburban district, a challenger will have to buy media on stations in the 3.5 million-strong Twin Cities metropolitan area. It's gonna be a lot more expensive.

by Max Fletcher 2007-08-06 12:14AM | 0 recs
Re: 20 key House recruiting priorities.

SAMM SIMPSON has decalred in fl-10

by BENAWU 2007-08-05 08:43PM | 0 recs
Re: 20 key House recruiting priorities.

 I didn't know, nor do I much care. She got 36% last  time. She  doesn't really count.

by Democraticavenger 2007-08-05 09:01PM | 0 recs
Re: 20 key House recruiting priorities.


I am not saying she is a top shelf candidate merely that she has filed. And the premise of the diary, that we need top tier challengers is a fair point in FL-10 as in the other districts cited.

by BENAWU 2007-08-06 04:57AM | 0 recs
Re: 20 key House recruiting priorities.

She also barely raised any money.  Almost 1,000$ per vote.  That's hardly a congressional campaign.  You said it yourself.  Wendy Wilde or whoever wasn't a serious contendor because she only raised 67,000$

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-08-06 07:49AM | 0 recs
Re: 20 key House recruiting priorities.

Per vote %*

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-08-06 07:49AM | 0 recs
House recruiting priorities

These are great picks, and all many of them need is a good Democratic ground game. DE At-large is a prime example. Democrats in the state need some good old-fashioned door-knocking activism to get them motivated to help out. If they can bring their best activists and local leaders to the forefront in time, that seat will be ours.

by Spiffarino 2007-08-05 09:27PM | 0 recs
Re: 20 key House recruiting priorities.

I agree some of the districts you mentioned are tough.

Virginia 2 is just not going to happen.  2006 nominee Phil Kellam is apparently the only elected Democrat in that district.  He was the closest thing to a star candidate we had.  He announced a month or so ago that he wouldn't run again.

I would add though
1.Alabama 3
Difficult to win, but it is the only potentially competitive district in Alabama and we should provide serious competition.

2.Florida 24
I think this is the main one you left out.  Republican Feeney is corrupt and this district isn't that Republican.

3.Indiana 3
Thomas Hayhurst lost under 55-45 in 2006 and we should follow this up.

4.Kentucky 2
The conservative Democrat we ran in 2006 came reasonably close.  It would be interesting to see what a more liberal Democrat could do in the district.

5.Michigan 9
We may get a strong candidate in this district in the next few days with Gary Peters set to announce whether he'll run or not.

6.Nevada 3
Several names have been mentioned but no top tier candidate has announced yet.

7.Pennsylvania 15
Another district that Kerry won in 2006.  Several Democrats in the district are supporting failed Allentown mayoral candidate Sam Bennett, which makes no sense to me.

8.Texas 14
Ron Paul will likely face a serious primary challenge.  We should try and pick up the pieces if he is defeated.  Or even try and get some Republican supporters if he wins the nomination.

by Adam T 2007-08-06 02:59AM | 0 recs
Re: 20 key House recruiting priorities.

Most of the districts you cited already have challengers in the offing, for the ones that don't. I see KY 2 as a lost cost given the 60+ George Bush got there, as for TX 14, Ron Paul has about five primary challengers, but I just don't like it that much.

by Democraticavenger 2007-08-06 05:52AM | 0 recs
Re: 20 key House recruiting priorities.

Honestly, I think some of you people have rocks in your head.  Never mind trying to defend seats like Tim Waltz's.  Now you want to go after Jim Ramstads?  And you think he's been successful because he pretends to be a moderate?  How about the guy has done a great job of representing his district for 15 years?  How about he is out and well known in the community?  He won in 06 with 65%.  Most years he wins with 80%.  While you're dreaming, can anybody come up with a name that can actually do better than Wendy Wilde's 35%?  And while you're dreaming you're going to lose a bunch of the seats that the Party is merely renting.  It might be a good idea to try and play defense and pick up a couple of vulnerable seats rather than dream up scenarios where we can have all 435.  What planet are you on?

by BigDemDog 2007-08-06 10:05AM | 0 recs
This One

To: Friends of Democracy Corps
From: Stan Greenberg, James Carville and Ana Iparraguirre
Report on Latest Democracy Corps National and Battleground Polls
The mood of the country grows uglier, with voters ever more dissatisfied with the President
and direction of the country. Disapproval of the Congress now equals that of President Bush
and the Democratic Congress, and leaders have lost some of the earlier glow; a 55 percent majority
believes the Democrats have not made progress on their election pledges. Nonetheless, the
Democratic advantage in Presidential and Congressional elections has been consolidated and
Democratic members are gaining in strength, while Republicans weaken. It seems, just as the
President and the Republicans own the Iraq war, they also own the battles and gridlock. By more
than 10 points, voters say the current gridlock in Washington makes them more likely to vote
Democratic for Congress and the White House.
by Democraticavenger 2007-08-06 10:19AM | 0 recs


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