National GOP campaign committee recruiting surge is not panning out

A recruiting surge anticipated by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) in recent weeks has yet to take shape as promised.

The NRCC said in late September that it would have challengers emerge in five specific top-targeted districts within a few weeks, but so far only one of those races has a nationally recruited challenger officially in the race.

Republicans have successfully recruited former Rep. Mike Sodrel (R-Ind.) against Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.), but they remain without top-flight challengers against Reps. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), John BarrowJohn Jenkins BarrowRepublican wins Georgia secretary of state runoff to replace Kemp The most important runoff election is one you probably never heard of Our democracy can’t afford to cut legal aid services from the budget MORE (D-Ga.), David Loebsack (D-Iowa) and Michael Arcuri (D-N.Y.).

A possible GOP candidate against Loebsack, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, has said she will probably run, and the committee expects her to, but the others remain virtually unopposed.

With the 2008 elections coming into focus following Tuesday’s state and local elections, the House campaign committees are battling over each other’s recruiting failures and successes halfway through the cycle.

The NRCC in September described the new recruits as a “flurry of candidates that will be coming forward in the next few weeks.”

Republicans say those state and local elections have slowed recruiting efforts in some of the districts, and that a series of emerging open seats have shifted their focus from the races they said would be filled by now.

The entry Monday of Iraq veteran and state Sen. Steve Stivers (R) into the race to replace retiring Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio) is the latest open seat for which the party has successfully recruited a candidate. Other recent announcements include Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White in the district of Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) and state Rep. Erik Paulsen (R) in Rep. Jim Ramstad’s (R-Minn.) district. Wilson is running for Senate, while Ramstad is retiring.

Sodrel opted for a fourth-straight match-up with Hill last month, but his candidacy came as no great surprise.

In Loebsack’s district, Miller-Meeks has yet to file her candidacy or form an exploratory committee.

The GOP still expects challengers to come forward soon against Barrow and Arcuri, while the Murphy district might take some more time.

Iraq veteran and surgeon Wayne Mosley (R) is a possible candidate who has been making the rounds in Barrow’s district in recent months.

Another Iraq veteran, Marine reservist Rick Perkins is eyeing a run against Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.) — another district the NRCC mentioned when asserting its impending uptick in recruiting.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) spokesman Doug Thornell said the NRCC spoke too soon about its recruits and noted that Sodrel has lost to Hill twice, in 2002 and 2006. Sodrel won a single term in 2004.

“National Republicans are shooting blanks all over the place and are finding themselves with a dearth of quality candidates,” Thornell said. “In the future, before brazenly predicting a recruitment surge, they might want to first line up more than just a two-time loser who was fired by voters for being part of the problem.”

NRCC spokesman Ken Spain noted the other recruits the committee has landed recently, who include candidates against Rep. Chris Carney (D-Pa.) and Rep. Tim BishopTimothy (Tim) Howard BishopDem candidate 'struck by the parallels' between Trump's rise and Hitler's Dems separated by 29 votes in NY House primary Flint residents hire first K Street firm MORE (D-N.Y.), and said “just like we promised, more are on the way.”

Stivers will face Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy, who lost narrowly to Pryce last year.

“With nothing to run on and a record-low approval rating to prove it, we are not surprised that Democrats are making deceptive claims about our recruitment successes,” Spain said. “After prematurely claiming victory in [Pryce’s] district, the DCCC is now on the defensive and left to prop up a flawed candidate against a top Republican recruit.”

Spain also criticized DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen’s (Md.) assertion last week that his committee already has strong challengers in about as many districts as it pursued in the 2006 elections.

“We have 40 seats at least — and growing — where we have good challengers in place, and that makes for a very big playing field this time around,” Van Hollen said at a briefing with reporters.

Van Hollen’s list includes some districts Democrats have not competed in for years, including Rep. John Shadegg’s (R-Ariz.), Rep. Vito Fossella’s (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Steven LaTourette’s (R-Ohio).

“The DCCC’s claim that they have somehow found 40 credible challengers to run in targeted races is nothing more than a bad joke,” Spain said. “If that is what passes for political strategy over there, then we hope they will continue to waste their time and engage in a fool’s errand.”

Thornell said: “Lectures on strategy from a party that can’t manage their own money, lacks an agenda and has been spending a lot of time defending themselves against their own members’ complaints is laughable.”