Republicans expect recruitment pickup

National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Pete Sessions says Republican recruiting could pick up even more in the aftermath of Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts.

The committee received “eight or nine calls from other people who asked, ‘What about my district?’ ” Sessions (Texas) told The Hill on Wednesday afternoon.

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While Brown’s win could lead to bigger things for the NRCC, Sessions said the announcements of a pair of new candidates had already been planned.

Republicans landed former congressional aide Jack Bailey to run against Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-Tenn.) and 2008 opponent Richard Hanna to run against Rep. Michael Arcuri (D-N.Y.).

“Murder around here is premeditated,” Sessions said. “This was planned for a long period of time. After November, we knew things were very, very good, and Richard Hanna and others knew things were very, very good.”

He added, though, that he’s got a new weapon in his arsenal.

“This is a huge selling point for Republicans to get in these races against Democrats,” Sessions said. “We have had continuously a large inquiry and, in fact, today a number of people are finalizing their decisions.”

He also suggested Republicans were emboldened enough by Brown’s win that they could pursue House districts in Massachusetts, which are all held by Democrats. In one of them, the district held by Rep. John Tierney, Sen.-elect Brown endorsed businessman Bill Hudak on Wednesday.

“We now look at the state of Massachusetts,” Sessions said. “Brown convincingly carried Richard Neal’s seat, Jim McGovern’s seat, Niki Tsongas’s seat, John Tierney’s seat and Bill Delahunt’s seat, and appears to have carried, by closer margins, Barney Frank’s and Stephen Lynch’s.”

Republicans have suggested they already have about 80 quality candidates, and they continue to expand their scope. They said they plan to have a candidate in all 435 races, including in Illinois, where the filing period has passed and the party will have to maneuver to fill out the ballot.

Sessions wasn’t the only one talking but about recruiting.

Chairman of the moderate House Republican Tuesday Group caucus, Rep. Charlie Dent (Pa.), told The Hill that candidates are going to “come out of the woodwork, across America, even in the Northeast and New England.”

“It’s a clarion call to everyone in Washington that the electorate is dissatisfied with this alarming agenda coming out of Washington,” Dent said.

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), vice-chairman of the NRCC, went one step further: “Recruitment has not only gone well up until this point, but I think it will go on steroids, henceforth.”

— A.B.

Mass. GOP eyeing Governor’s mansion

Now that Republicans have checked Massachusetts’s Senate seat off their list, they’re eyeing the gubernatorial mansion.

Scott Brown’s victory on Tuesday has invigorated the party about the deep-blue state.

“Our [gubernatorial] candidate, Charlie Baker, will run an optimistic campaign based on ideas on how to improve the economy and create jobs and issues important to the commonwealth,” a Republican Governors Association (RGA) official told The Hill.

Some recent polls have shown Baker within single digits of Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, who has an approval rate below 50 percent. Baker, a former health insurance executive, faces businessman Christy Mihos in the Republican primary.

“We have believed consistently that we can win Massachusetts, and last night’s result underscores the validity of that belief,” the RGA official said.
Democrats dismissed the notion that Brown’s victory will translate into state-level success for Republicans.

“All this mess you hear about with federal politics is not going to factor into it,” said Nathan Daschle, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association (DGA).

Voters “know the difference between a federal race and a governor’s race,” Daschle said. “Voters who want to make a statement about what’s going on in Washington will have a lot of options” in 2010.

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Different issues play into a state-level race, he added. “When it comes down to gubernatorial candidates, they’re going to be thinking about who’s got the best plan to create jobs in the state, who can they trust to manage the budget and who’s got the vision for the state.”

Moreover, Daschle pointed to the presence of state Treasurer Tim Cahill, who’s running as an Independent.
Cahill will take votes away from the Republican, Daschle said. “I just don’t see how Charlie Baker puts together a winning race.”

In a Boston Globe poll published Jan. 11, Patrick had support from 30 percent of respondents, with Cahill getting 23 percent and Baker 19 percent. The result was roughly the same when Mihos was the GOP candidate in the lineup.

— S.J.M.