NRCC touts success of 'Red Zone' program in new memo

The National Republican Congressional Committee is trumpeting the success of its “Red Zone” program. Launched a year ago, the initiative singled out seven Democrats sitting in GOP districts for defeat.

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In a new memo, obtained first by The Hill, NRCC Red Zone Director Annie Kelly touts the NRCC’s efforts in the seven districts as helping nudge two of the Democrats toward retirement and position Democrats in the other five districts for defeat.

Last May, the NRCC named Reps. John Barrow (Ga.), Jim Matheson (Utah.), Ann Kirkpatrick (Ariz.), Ron Barber (Ariz.), Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Nick Rahall (W.Va.) and Collin Peterson (Minn.) to the program. Each of their districts were won by the GOP presidential nominee during the last three presidential cycles.

“One year out, the results speak for themselves. Because of our early and aggressive efforts, two Red Zone targets-Jim Matheson (UT-04) and Mike McIntyre (NC-07) - chose to retire rather than face defeat in November,” Kelly writes in the memo. “The remaining five have attracted top recruits whose messages are resounding with their districts and are well are on their way to victory. Both Cook Political Report and the Rothenberg Report currently lists 3 of our RedZone targets in the Toss-Up column.”

Kirkpatrick, Barber and Rahall are all listed as toss-ups by those nonpartisan political handicappers, and all have faced heavy attacks by outside groups focused on ObamaCare and Obama’s energy policies.

All three are expected to face top-tier Republican opponents, as well, with retired Air Force colonel Martha McSally looking for a rematch with Barber this cycle, state Sen. Evan Jenkins in the race against Rahall and three Republicans vying for the chance to take on Kirkpatrick.

Barrow is seen as less vulnerable, as his challenger is less clear and he’s largely been able to avoid the barrage of outside attacks. But Kelly writes in the memo that “Georgians have been deceived by the many faces of John Barrow for too long, they are ready for real leadership in Washington.”

Peterson is considered perhaps the safest of the seven, but Kelly touted his opponent, state Sen. Torrey Westrom, as a candidate with “a proven record of supporting common sense policies that help Minnesota farmers and families.”

Democrats need 17 seats to take back the majority in the House, a prospect that looks unlikely this cycle as they continue to face a difficult political climate and challenges in turning out their base.

And with the health care law and the president facing persistent disapproval nationwide, some Republicans have expressed cautious optimism that the party may be able to expand its majority this fall.

Kelly, in the memo, touted those two issues as top reasons the Red Zone Democrats “are running scared” this cycle.

“The failure of President Obama and his signature healthcare law have greatly weakened these endangered incumbents. With some of the RedZone members deciding to leave Congress instead of lose, there is no question the remaining RedZone targets days are numbered in Congress,” she writes.