GOP targets vulnerable Dems with ‘Donkeys List’
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The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is targeting Democratic House members it believes are most vulnerable heading into 2016.

The NRCC’s "2016 Donkeys List" released on Wednesday is made up of blue state incumbents, Democratic rising stars, repeat top targets that manage to keep eking out victories, potential Senate candidates, and the current and former heads of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

There are also three freshman Democrats on the list – Reps. Pete Aguilar (Calif.), Brad Ashford (Neb.) and Gwen Graham (Fla.) — that the NRCC is targeting for short careers.

Graham is seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party. In 2014, the first-time candidate and daughter of former Sen. and Florida Gov. Bob Graham unseated two-term Republican Rep. Steve Southerland (Fla.) in a nasty and expensive race in the Florida Panhandle.

She has been mentioned as a potential 2016 Senate candidate, but a source close to Graham told The Hill she’s not interested in running for Senate so soon after winning a House seat for the first time.

Aguilar narrowly defeated Republican Paul Chabot for the open seat in California’s 31st District following the retirement of Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.).

Ashford won one of 2014’s ugliest races. The former lawyer and judge was repeatedly slammed by Republicans who said he was weak on sentencing laws. One controversial ad cited a case in which a convicted criminal left prison and killed four people.

Also on the list are Democratic Reps. Ann KirkpatrickAnn KirkpatrickDemocrats face voters clamoring for impeachment Arizona Dems ask DHS to appoint 'crisis coordinator' at border Democrats introduce bill to let 'Dreamers' work for Congress MORE (Ariz.) and Collin Peterson (Minn.), both of whom were top targets for Republicans in 2014. However, both received surprisingly comfortable wins amid the GOP wave election in the last cycle.

Some of the Democrats on the NRCC’s list are in perennially competitive districts and could be considering running for Senate.

Rep. Patrick Murphy (Fla.), who just won his second term in the House, is considering running for Senate in 2016. At only 31, he’s a fresh face for the party, and he has a proven ability to raise money.  He knocked off conservative firebrand Rep. Allen West (R) in 2012. In the last campaign cycle, Murphy brought in more than $5 million, and he had more than $500,000 left in his campaign account at the end of 2014.

And Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) has launched a leadership PAC, fueling speculation she will run for Senate in the near future. In the 2014 midterm cycle, Sinema considered switching from her competitive 9th District, to the neighboring 7th District, where a far easier race awaited. She stayed in the 9th and cruised to victory during a Republican wave year in a competitive district that only narrowly voted for President Obama in 2012.

Rep. Ben Ray Luján (N.M.) replaced Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) in November to become the first Hispanic chairman of House Democrats' political arm. Both are now “honorary” top targets for the NRCC, although they are both are in relatively safe districts.

Rounding out the list are Democratic Reps. John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiHouse panel shoots down funding, deployment of low-yield nukes in defense bill Overnight Defense: Latest on House defense bill markup | Air Force One, low-yield nukes spark debate | House Dems introduce resolutions blocking Saudi arms sales | Trump to send 1,000 troops to Poland House panel votes to restrict possible changes to Air Force One design MORE (Calif.), Ami BeraAmerish (Ami) Babulal BeraOvernight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran Cruz pitches Ocasio-Cortez on bill to make birth control available over the counter To protect our health, we must act on climate MORE (Calif.), Julia BrownleyJulia Andrews BrownleyBooker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Overnight Energy: Ocasio-Cortez rolls out Green New Deal measure | Pelosi taps members for climate panel | AOC left out | Court reviews order for EPA to ban pesticide Ocasio-Cortez: ‘I truly do not’ believe Pelosi snubbed me on climate change panel MORE (Calif.), Raul Ruiz (Calif.), Scott Peters (Calif.), Elizabeth Esty (Conn.), Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosThe bottom dollar on recession, Trump's base, and his reelection prospects DCCC says it raised .85 million in May DCCC chair: Brooks retirement signals challenge for GOP women MORE (Ill.), Rick Nolan (Minn.), Ann McLane Kuster (N.H.) and Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.).

Esty represents Newtown, Conn., and has made gun control her top legislative priority, while Maloney won his New York district by just over 3,000 votes in 2014.

Six of the 19 lawmakers on the list are from deep-blue California. In 2014, Republicans won their largest majority in the House since World War II, and they’ll be looking to creep into traditionally blue regions in the next cycle.