House Republican campaign arm rolls out target list for midterms

The House GOP’s campaign arm on Wednesday rolled out its target list for the 2022 midterms as the party works to retake the lower chamber in two years.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) in a new memo outlined 47 Democrat-held seats it views as pickup opportunities in the next election. The party only needs a net five flips to retake the chamber after a successful 2020 cycle, during which it captured 15 seats despite expectations the caucus could lose as many as 15 members.

“House Republicans start the cycle just five seats short of a majority and are prepared to build on our 2020 successes to deliver a lasting Republican majority in the House. We will stay laser-focused on recruiting talented and diverse candidates, aggressively highlighting Democrats’ socialist agenda and raising enough resources to win,” NRCC Chairman Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) said in a statement announcing the roadmap. 

The top tier of targets is made up of 29 Democrats who either represent districts President Biden lost or underperformed the top of the ticket. 

Among the Democratic lawmakers in that bucket are Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux (Ga.) and Andy Kim (N.J.), who represent competitive suburban seats where Democrats have made inroads; Reps. Cheri Bustos (Ill.) and Ron Kind (Wis.), who represent whiter, working-class districts; and Texas Reps. Henry Cuellar and Vicente Gonzalez, who represent Hispanic-heavy districts on the southern border where former President Trump showed strength in November. 

A second tier of targets includes Democrats who won their seats by under 10 percentage points and underperformed Biden. Many of them also represent suburbs that were once GOP-friendly districts but swung hard against Republicans during the Trump era.

A third group includes 10 Democrats whose seats could be changed during redistricting in a way that could make them more competitive for Republicans.

“Republicans have a clear path back to the majority. President Biden, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats will continue to push a radical, partisan agenda that is too extreme for middle-class families,” NRCC Executive Director John Billings wrote in the memo, referring to Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Emmer suggested that Republicans will run in the midterms against the polices of the Biden administration, hoping that the party can unite against the new president as it remains racked over divisions regarding the role Trump will play in its future.

“We are just a few weeks into the Biden Administration and Americans are already seeing the job-killing initiatives House Democrats support,” Emmer said. “We will relentlessly hold House Democrats accountable for their socialist agenda and ensure voters understand the damaging impact policies like defunding the police, government-run health care and ending the Keystone XL Pipeline will have on Americans’ everyday lives.”

History is on Republicans’ side, given that the party in the White House typically loses seats in the first midterm of a new administration. And with such a narrow margin already dividing the House, Republicans are confident 2022 is their year to take back the lower chamber.

However, the party is still reeling from the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill by Trump supporters. The party and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) were recently torn over whether to punish Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), the No. 3 House Republican, over her vote to impeach Trump for his role in inciting the mob, and whether to rebuke Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) over past support for the QAnon conspiracy theory and remarks promoting racist ideas and violence against Democrats. 

Several major corporations have also said they would no longer donate to Republicans who voted to overturn the election results, a policy that, if maintained, would impact the majority of the House GOP.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the NRCC's Democratic counterpart, indicated it will play up those developments in 2022.

"The American people are looking for leaders they can count on to crush the coronavirus, get them relief checks, and put them safely back on the job after President Trump and Washington Republicans’ pure incompetence left millions out of work and hundreds of thousands dead. But instead, Minority leader McCarthy won’t stop reminding the country that he is too weak to stand up to the dangerous QAnon conspiracists taking over his party and sparking violence on the streets that left a police officer murdered," said DSCC spokesperson Cole Leiter. "If Washington Republicans are too weak to stand up to the QAnon mob, they’re too weak to deliver for the American people. That’s a reality voters will not forget."

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