Democrats expand House map after election victories

Democrats expand House map after election victories
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House Democrats, bullish on their prospects in 2018 after election victories across the nation, are expanding the number of GOP-held districts they plan to target in their effort to win back the chamber.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) on Thursday released a list of 91 total House districts it plans to target in next year’s midterm elections. Democrats need to win 24 seats to win back the House.

That list includes 11 new districts, including Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRyan, GOP lawmaker trade 'bad dad jokes' ahead of Father's Day Hugh Hewitt to Trump: 'It is 100 percent wrong to separate border-crossing families' White House walks back Trump's rejection of immigration compromise MORE's (R-Wis.) and three held by longtime GOP incumbents who recently announced plans to leave Congress.

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Of those, retiring centrist Rep. Charlie DentCharles (Charlie) Wieder DentGOP chairwoman: Anyone who doesn't support Trump 'will be making a mistake' GOP will vote on immigration next week, sinking discharge petition Ex-GOP lawmakers call on Republicans to speak out against Trump MORE’s (R-Pa.) eastern Pennsylvania swing district will likely be the most competitive. Dent was considered a particularly skilled incumbent who would be tough to beat, but an open seat will make it up for grabs next year.

The DCCC is also expanding its map for far-reaching districts that would be tough to flip even in a tidal wave for Democrats, like the ones held by Ryan and House GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersThe Hill's 12:30 Report Will guns be an issue in midterms? You can bet on it in these districts Time to set politics aside to move ahead on criminal justice reform MORE (R-Wash.).

Other newly-added districts include those held by Reps. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who are both not seeking reelection; Rep. Mia LoveLudmya (Mia) LoveDems best GOP as Scalise returns for annual charity baseball game Mia Love to join GOP men's congressional baseball team House immigration fight could boost vulnerable Republicans MORE (R-Utah); Rep. Lou BarlettaLouis (Lou) James BarlettaPoll: Casey holds double-digit lead over Barletta in Pa. Senate race How lawmakers have landed an endorsement from Trump Pennsylvania lawmakers invite Eagles to Capitol after Trump snub MORE (R-Pa.), who is running for Senate; Rep. Pete KingPeter (Pete) Thomas KingGrimm condemns Donovan after Trump endorsement: Endorsements can't change facts Trump backs Donovan in New York House race The Memo: 'Roseanne' storm revives debate over Trump MORE (R-N.Y.); Rep. Trey HollingsworthJoseph (Trey) Albert HollingsworthElection fears recede for House Republicans Giving the middle class credit: New bill a step in right direction Americans need access to small loans for their financial security MORE (R-Ind.); Rep. Tom McClintockThomas (Tom) Milller McClintockThere is no blue wave in California Conservative group unveils plan to slash spending by trillion California Republicans seek turnout boost to avert midterm disaster MORE (R-Calif.); and Rep. Glenn GrothmanGlenn S. GrothmanFood stamp crackdown feared amid Trump jobs push Democrats expand House map after election victories GOP lawmaker looks to block EPA ozone rule MORE (R-Wis.).

“The DCCC has successfully built the largest battlefield in over a decade, with strong campaigns ready to win tough races across the map in 2018,” DCCC Chairman Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) wrote in a memo.

The memo cites the number of House GOP retirements as a sign of momentum for Democratic challengers in newly open seats.

Fourteen House members have announced their plans to retire this year, which is still below the historical average of 22 per election cycle. All but two of the 14 retiring lawmakers are Republicans.

Tiberi plans to leave the House by the end of January to lead the Ohio Business Roundtable, while former House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzChaffetz knocks Sessions: He's 'the attorney general in name only' Chaplain controversy shifts spotlight to rising GOP star Ingraham’s ratings spike a wake-up for advertisers MORE (R-Utah) resigned earlier this year to take a position at Fox News.

Seventeen other lawmakers, roughly split between the two parties, are running for other offices. 

“In general, eliminating the power of incumbency creates a great deal of advantage for House Democratic challengers,” Luján wrote.

The DCCC had initially outlined 80 battlefield districts, which Luján said now have “viable candidates” in all but five of them.

The widespread Democratic victories in Virginia, New Jersey, Washington state and elsewhere on Tuesday night have given momentum to a party left deep in the minority after President Trump’s unexpected win in 2016.

Polls leading up to Tuesday’s elections had suggested the race for Virginia governor would be competitive, with Democrat Ralph Northam holding a narrow lead. But Northam ultimately defeated Republican Ed Gillespie, who had echoed Trump’s culture war appeals in his campaign ads, by 9 points due to a surge in Democratic turnout.

Virginia Democrats are also unexpectedly close to winning control of the House of Delegates, with some races still not yet called.

Recent polls have shown Democrats with a significant advantage in the generic ballot asking voters which party should control the House.

Trump’s job approval also remains anemic at around 38 percent, according to recent polls. Presidents have historically seen their party lose seats in Congress during midterm elections in their first terms.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday compared Trump’s low approval rating to that of former President George W. Bush before Democrats won the House in 2006.

“That means we get the fresh recruits and they get the retirements. We get the A-Team,” Pelosi said at a press conference.