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 RyanWho should be the Democratic vice presidential candidate? The Pelosi administration It's not populism that's killing America's democracy 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 DentThe biggest political upsets of the decade Ex-GOP lawmaker: Former colleagues privately say they're 'disgusted and exhausted' by Trump Overnight Health Care — Presented by Better Medicare Alliance — Federal judge blocks Trump from detaining migrant children indefinitely | Health officials tie vaping-related illnesses to 'Dank Vapes' brand | Trump to deliver health care speech in Florida 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 RodgersOvernight Energy: Trump rolls back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards | Controversial Keystone XL construction to proceed | Pressure mounts to close national parks amid pandemic Critics blast Trump mileage rollback, citing environment and health concerns The myth about Puerto Rican statehood that won't go away 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) LoveThe biggest political upsets of the decade Former GOP lawmaker: Trump's tweets have to stop Congressional Women's Softball team releases roster MORE (R-Utah); Rep. Lou BarlettaLouis (Lou) James BarlettaBottom Line Ex-GOP congressman to lead group to protect Italian products from tariffs Head of Pennsylvania GOP resigns over alleged explicit texts MORE (R-Pa.), who is running for Senate; Rep. Pete KingPeter (Pete) KingJohn Kerry: GOP lawmaker against coronavirus package 'tested positive for being an ---hole' Lawmakers highlight flights back to DC for huge coronavirus vote Trump flexes pardon power with high-profile clemencies MORE (R-N.Y.); Rep. Trey HollingsworthJoseph (Trey) Albert HollingsworthThe housing affordability crisis is a reality: Lawmakers need to act, but responsibly Overnight Defense: House passes bills to rein in Trump on Iran | Pentagon seeks Iraq's permission to deploy missile defenses | Roberts refuses to read Paul question on whistleblower during impeachment trial Here are the lawmakers who defected on Iran legislation MORE (R-Ind.); Rep. Tom McClintockThomas (Tom) Milller McClintockTop conservatives pen letter to Trump with concerns on fourth coronavirus relief bill Hispanic Caucus campaign arm unveils non-Hispanic endorsements Overnight Energy: Panel gives chairman power to subpoena Interior | House passes bill to protect wilderness | House Republicans propose carbon capture bill | Ocasio-Cortez introduces bill to ban fracking MORE (R-Calif.); and Rep. Glenn GrothmanGlenn S. GrothmanTop conservatives pen letter to Trump with concerns on fourth coronavirus relief bill Interest rate caps are popular — for good reason GOP moves to block provision banning use of Defense funds for border wall 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 ChaffetzThe myth of the conservative bestseller Elijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records 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.