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House GOP campaign arm unveils 2018 targets

House GOP campaign arm unveils 2018 targets
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The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) released its early list of 2018 targets Wednesday as Republicans seek to hold on to their House majority during a midterm cycle.

Republicans were able to fend off major losses in the 2016 election in an election that saw Democrats only flip six seats, barely chipping away at the GOP’s historic majority in the lower chamber.

The NRCC’s initial list targets 36 Democrat-held seats that the party plans to focus on over the next two years.

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“The success of our government depends on Republicans maintaining a strong majority in the House. We owe the American people assurance that the agenda we were elected on — healthcare reform, a stronger national defense, and more good-paying jobs — is fulfilled,” said Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), chairman of the NRCC. 

“Our strategy will allow us to be competitive in races throughout the country and achieve our overall goal of keeping Republicans in control of the House.”

Republicans, however, will likely face an uphill battle this cycle. The party of the incumbent president traditionally loses House seats during the first two years in office.

The list of GOP targets includes freshmen Democrats sitting in traditional swing districts like Reps. Jacky Rosen (Nev.), Ruben Kihuen (Nev.), Carol Shea-Porter (N.H.), Josh Gottheimer (N.J.), Tom O’Halleran (Ariz.) and Charlie Crist (Fla.).

The list also notably includes Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), who oversaw the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in the 2016 cycle. Luján's district, which he has served since 2009, is considered a safe Democratic seat.

Last week, the DCCC circulated its own memo with an early look at 2018 targets. The initial list targets 59 seats, with a focus on dozens of Republican seats in districts won by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Monica Lewinsky responds to viral HBO intern's mistake: 'It gets better' Virginia governor's race poses crucial test for GOP MORE as well as another handful of GOP-held seats that Trump carried only narrowly.

The DCCC pushed back on its GOP counterpart's list, arguing that House Democrats will be on offense this cycle and noting that they are expanding their battlefield beyond the typical target districts.

“House Democrats are on offense all across the map this cycle, and we have already begun investing in districts that have not traditionally been on the battlefield – a reflection of historical midterm trends, the widespread backlash to President Trump, and a deeply unpopular Republican agenda," DCCC spokesman Tyler Law said.

"Here’s a reality check: the NRCC lost six seats – including longtime incumbents – during a favorable national environment last cycle – and this one will be much worse for them.”