NRCC upgrades 17 candidates to 'contender' status

The National Republican Congressional Committee has moved 17 GOP House candidates into the second level of their "Young Guns" training program, a sign they see their districts as top targets.

The "Contenders" level is for candidates who have met benchmark organizational and fundraising requirements.

The candidates are mostly establishment favorites in competitive or GOP-leaning districts who are running unopposed in their primaries. Exceptions include the promotion all three GOP candidates running against Rep. Ami BeraAmi BeraNRCC upgrades 11 'Young Guns' candidates House votes to restrict IRS hires and funding Rep. Ellison challenges Ryan to bring Muslim guest to SOTU MORE (D-Calif.), including two that establishment Republicans worry could cost the party a chance at the seat if they advance in the primary against him. 

The NRCC also promoted Saratoga Springs, Utah, Mayor Mia Love (R) in her race for retiring Rep. Jim MathesonJim MathesonBottom Line Washington's lobby firms riding high Big names free to lobby in 2016 MORE's (D-Utah) seat. Love, the party's 2012 nominee, faces primary opposition, though she's the heavy favorite in the race.

The NRCC also added Virginia Del. Barbara Comstock (R) to the first level of the Young Guns program, "On the Radar." Comstock is facing a competitive primary race in a swing district of retiring Rep. Frank WolfFrank WolfLobbying World Supreme Court weighs legality of Virginia redistricting Global crisis of religious persecution needs a Congressional response MORE (R-Va.). 

Here's a full list of the candidates:

French Hill (AR-02)

Martha McSally (AZ-02)

Dan Logue (CA-03)

Doug Ose (CA-07)

Elizabeth Emken (CA-07)

Igor Birman (CA-07)

Brian Nestande (CA-36)

Mimi Walters (CA-45)

Carl DeMaio (CA-52)

Bob Dold (IL-10)

Darlene Senger (IL-11)

Mike Bost (IL-12)

Bobby Schilling (IL-17)

Richard Tisei (MA-06)

Stewart Mills (MN-08)

Mia Love (UT-04)

Evan Jenkins (WV-03) 

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