Democrats already face long odds in taking back the House, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s first round of “Red to Blue” races underscores just how difficult that uphill task is in a GOP-friendly midterm year.
Their inaugural list of 16 priority candidates who have exceeded fundraising and organizational benchmarks is just shy of the 17 seats the party needs to flip to win control. And that math doesn’t factor in likely losses for Democrats with the retirements of Reps. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) and Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) in red districts.
Some are better opportunities than others, such as the now-open Democratic-leaning California-31. But several bank on Republicans nominating divisive candidates, like in Iowa-03, New Jersey-03 and Virginia-10. Another 12 candidates were highlighted as running in “emerging races” and four districts named “emerging districts,” where the committee said candidates are on track to put the districts into play.
Appearing on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown” Monday morning, DCCC Chairman Steve Israel was predictably on message. The New York Democrat argued the party's candidates were “problem solvers” while GOP ratings have plummeted, promising Dems would roll out more “Red to Blue” contests.
But he sounded more guarded on Democrats’ chances than he did in the midst of last fall’s government shutdown and next week’s crucial Florida-13 special election.
“We do this in real time and we worry about the narrative after Election Day,” said Israel.
TOMORROW’S AGENDA TODAY
The 2014 primary season officially begins Tuesday in Texas, where polls are open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Central Time (8 a.m. until 8 p.m. on the East Coast).
We’ll have a full wrap-up on contests to watch in Tuesday’s Campaign Overnight, but on Ballot Box today we highlighted two interesting races: Congress’s oldest member, Rep. Ralph Hall (R), is fighting for his political life against a self-funding primary challenger, and in the overlooked Texas Democratic Senate primary, the party is scrambling to make sure a Lyndon LaRouche acolyte isn’t its nominee.
BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE
AZ-07: Democrat Ruben Gallego, the Arizona state House assistant minority leader running for retiring Rep. Ed Pastor’s (D-Ariz.) seat, told The Hill that even if Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) switches to his race, “I’m certainly not going to back down.”
WHO’S IN/OUT IN AZ-07: Per the Arizona Republic:
IN: State Senate Minority Whip Steve Gallardo, Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox
OUT: Former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton
CA-15: President Obama endorsed freshman Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), who is facing a challenge from California state Sen. Ellen Corbett (D).
MI-12: Democratic powerbroker Debbie Dingell leads Michigan state Sen. Rebekah Warren (D) by 51 percent to 16 percent in an automated primary poll. Dingell is running to succeed her husband, retiring Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), while Warren is considering a bid against her.
FL-13: Just over a week out from Election Day, two new groups are getting in on the action in Florida’s 13th District special, with one launching a radio ad hitting Republican David Jolly on his lobbying background and another, a pro-centrist group launched by former Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), hitting Democrat Alex Sink on ObamaCare.
ARKANSAS (PRYOR): Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) compared President Obama’s response of “trembling inaction” to Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine to world leaders’ lack of a response to the Nazi annexation of Austria in the 1930s.
MICHIGAN (OPEN): Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) is blasting former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) for opposing the auto bailout, which many Michiganders see as key to saving the state’s economy. The same stance hurt Mitt Romney in the state in the 2012 presidential race.
KANSAS (ROBERTS): Democratic Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor launched a bid for Senate in Kansas on Friday, giving Democrats an opportunity to take advantage of a contentious Republican primary fight between Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and radiologist Milton Wolf. Republicans, however, were quick to point to criticism he faced when he stopped prosecuting domestic violence cases due to budget cuts as evidence he’s a flawed candidate for the seat.
NEW HAMPSHIRE (SHAHEEN): The Union-Leader wrote yet another editorial critical of former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown’s (R) flirtation with the Senate race there, comparing his ability to draw publicity to the Kardashians and Justin Bieber.
WAITING FOR JEB: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s associates say he’s looking at a presidential run more closely than ever before, and that now could be his moment.
OLD DOMINION DOMINANCE: Hillary Clinton leads all of her potential GOP rivals in an early 2016 poll of Virginia.
CLINTON NO CLINCHER IN IOWA: Five years after Hillary Clinton’s devastating surprise third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, skepticism still remains among Hawkeye State Democrats for what many expect to be her second shot at the White House.
THE HUCK SNEAK: The Union-Leader reports that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee met with a number of top advisers from his 2007-08 bid, including his New Hampshire campaign manager Deb Vander Beek, during a Friday stop in the state to speak at a meeting of the American Renewal Project.
WEIRD NEWS OF THE DAY
DE-FRIENDED: A source close to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (D) is pushing back hard against a report that she’s considering a challenge to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in 2016, calling it “100 percent untrue.”
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