The 10 House Democrats Republicans would love to beat

House Republicans, coming off a historic year in 2010, say they can expand their majority this fall.

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GOP lawmakers and operatives scoff at Democratic predictions that the House will flip this fall, noting the retirements of Democrats in red-leaning districts.

Earlier this month, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said his goal in November is to gain seats. To do that, Republicans are going to have to oust Democratic incumbents.

The following are 10 Democrats Republicans would love to beat on Election Day.

Rep. Larry Kissell (N.C.)

Kissell, one of the few remaining conservative Democrats, is fighting a tough battle to retain the seat he won when President Obama was last at the top of the ticket in 2008. David Wasserman of the non-partisan Cook Political Report pointed out that redistricting has hurt Kissell’s chances of a third term. The Cook Report has moved Kissell’s chances of winning from their leans Republican column to likely Republican. The Hill has Kissell in the likely Republican category. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently pulled its ads for Kissell.

Rep. John Barrow (Ga.)

Barrow, one of a handful of conservative Democrats to survive the 2010 GOP wave election, again finds himself in a tough race, in a redrawn district with more GOP voters. The four-term southern Democratic lawmaker faces state lawmaker Lee Anderson. Wasserman said, "Unlike the Kissell race, there are signs of life for Barrow here. Part of it is that the Republican candidate in this district, Lee Anderson, got such a late start. He only won his run-off a couple weeks ago, after the recount declared him the winner by 159 votes."

Rep. Kathy Hochul (N.Y.)

Hochul, won a squeaker of a race in an upper New York state special election in May 2011. At the time, she faced a Tea Party-backed GOP opponent who doubled-down on the controversial House GOP budget to change Medicare. This cycle however, Hochul is running in a redrawn more GOP-friendly district, against a better opponent. Boehner and other leaders have spent time in upstate New York district. The Hill rates this race a toss up.

Rep. John Tierney (Mass.)

Republicans are giddy they may pick up a seat in one of the nation's blue states. Tierney’s re-election effort, besieged by a family scandal involving illegal gambling, has consistently appeared in the toss-up column of political handicappers. The House veteran faces a viable challenger in Richard Tisei, the openly gay former state Senate minority leader. The toss up contest has taken on a nasty tone recently.

Rep. Jim Matheson (Utah)

Matheson, a longtime GOP target, faces a particularly difficult race a district that is likely to vote heavily for the GOP presidential nominee, Mormon Mitt Romney. Coupled with the Romney coattails, Matheson faces a tough challenger in Haitian-American Mormon Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love – who could become the first black GOP woman elected to the House. Wasserman considers the race a “pure toss up,” even though Love “surged after the GOP convention.” However, Love has spent the past week fending off allegations that she is a so-called “anchor baby” — a term for someone whose foreign-born parents gave birth to her in the U.S. to ensure their citizenship. “It's a unique situation,” Wasserman said. “Republicans have succeeded in driving up Matheson's negatives somewhat."

Rep. Mike McIntyre (N.C.)

McIntyre, an endangered southern Democrat, has foiled GOP attempts to defeat him in the past but he may have a more difficult time in 2012, due to redistricting. The eight-term incumbent faces a GOP challenger, state Sen. David Rouzer, in his race to continue serving the eastern North Carolina district that was remapped to take on a slough of new GOP voters. McIntyre was one of the few southern Democrats to survive the 2010 GOP election wave, and outside conservative groups want to deny him a ninth term. Wasserman says that, like Barrow and Hochul, “the problem for these Democrats is redistricting — that's their opponent in their re-election races.”

Rep. David Cicilline (R.I.)

The freshmen Democrat elected to the House in the 2010 GOP wave faces a tough race this cycle. The former mayor of Providence saw a sharp drop in his approval rating following the revelation that he didn’t disclose a $110 million deficit for Rhode Island’s capital city, despite running on a platform touting transparency. The Hill rates this race a toss up.

Rep. Mark Critz (Pa.)

Incumbent Mark Critz faces a Tea Party-backed opponent in November. Critz, whose western Pennsylvania district took on a number of more conservative voters in the redistricting process, defeated Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) in their primary earlier this year. His challenger, Keith Rothfus, an attorney, has attracted millions of dollars in advertisements from the House GOP campaign arm, as well as visits by leadership lawmakers.

Rep. Louise Slaughter (N.Y.)

Republicans would cherish defeating the ranking member of the Rules Committee, but Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks is the clear underdog. A recent poll by Siena College has the 13-term lawmaker up 10 points. Cook Political Report rates this race as likely Democratic.

Rep. Lois Capps (Calif.)

Capps is in a challenging re-election race in the wake of redistricting. Former state Assemblyman Abel Maldonado, Capps’s GOP opponent, has attacked her support of the healthcare reform law. Capps is the favorite in the race, which The Hill rates lean Democratic.

--Bob Cusack contributed to this article.


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• The 10 House GOP lawmakers Democrats would love to beat