House Republicans add 5 members to incumbent protection program

House Republicans add 5 members to incumbent protection program
© Greg Nash

The House GOP campaign arm announced Friday that it is adding five Republicans to the ranks of its incumbent protection program for this year’s midterm elections.

The National Republican Congressional Committee’s (NRCC) Patriot Program now has a total of 23 GOP lawmakers on its roster as it tries to defend the House GOP majority. The program offers fundraising and organizational assistance to its most vulnerable incumbents seeking reelection.

The latest five Republicans to make the list are among those in districts that have become more competitive as Democrats seek to expand their target map: Reps. Andy BarrAndy Hale BarrMcConnell campaign criticized for tombstone with challenger's name McConnnell launches statewide attack ad against Democratic Senate challenger Kentucky Democrat announces challenge to GOP Rep. Andy Barr MORE (Ky.), Mike Bishop (Mich.), Mike BostMichael (Mike) J. BostMORE (Ill.), John CulbersonJohn Abney CulbersonLack of transparency may put commercial space program at risk Ex-GOP Rep. Roskam joins lobbying firm K Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers MORE (Texas) and Scott TaylorScott William TaylorFormer GOP rep launches Senate campaign in Virginia Virginia special prosecutor indicts former GOP campaign staffer The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority MORE (Va.).

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“Republicans have placed our nation on a prosperous trajectory—what we call The Great American Comeback. These Members were instrumental in making that happen, and will be instrumental in seeing it through well beyond the 2018 election,” Rep. Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Republicans offer support for Steve King challenger The United States broken patent system is getting worse MORE (R-Ohio), chairman of the NRCC, said in a statement.

Culberson has represented his Houston-area district since 2001, but has become a top Democratic target after Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPoll shows Biden, Warren tied with Trump in Arizona The Hill's Morning Report - Trump touts new immigration policy, backtracks on tax cuts Hickenlooper announces Senate bid MORE narrowly carried it by just more than a point over President TrumpDonald John TrumpSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor The US-Iranian scuffle over a ship is a sideshow to events in the Gulf South Korea: US, North Korea to resume nuclear talks 'soon' MORE in 2016.

Taylor, meanwhile, represents a district that Trump won by 3 points but that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) carried by 4 points last year. Taylor is also only in his first term, compared to a longtime incumbent like Culberson.

Barr, Bost and Bishop represent districts that Trump won by more comfortable margins. Trump carried Barr and Bost’s districts by 15 points each, while he won Bishop’s by 7 points.

Still, all three are considered to be in competitive races for reelection.

Barr is expected to face the stiffest challenge from a Democratic candidate since he defeated former Rep. Ben Chandler (D-Ky.) in 2012. At least five Democrats are running to unseat Barr, including Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, retired Marine Corps pilot Amy McGrath and state Sen. Reggie Thomas.

Trump handily carried Bost’s district, but Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthOvernight Defense: Dems talk Afghanistan, nukes at Detroit debate | Senate panel advances Hyten nomination | Iranian foreign minister hit with sanctions | Senate confirms UN ambassador Senate committee advances nomination of general accused of sexual assault Overnight Defense: General accused of sexual assault to get confirmation hearing | Senate to vote Monday on overriding Saudi arms deal veto | Next Joint Chiefs chair confirmed | Graham tries to ease Turkey tensions MORE (D-Ill.) also won it in 2016. Democrat Brendan Kelly, St. Clair County state’s attorney, outraised Bost in the fourth quarter of 2017. The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, currently rate’s Bost’s race as a “toss up” along with Culberson’s district.

The Cook Political Report rates the odds slightly more in the GOP’s favor at “Lean Republican” for Barr, Taylor and Bishop.