House Dems fight to hold 9 districts Romney won

AP News
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Posted: Oct 18, 2014 3:58 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — As House Republicans try enlarging their majority in next month's elections, one focus is the nine Democratic-held districts that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney carried in 2012. A brief look at each race:

—Arizona 1st District: The National Republican Congressional Committee has made two-term incumbent Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick their top target so far, reporting spending $3.1 million as of Friday to help GOP candidate Andy Tobin. One ad by the House GOP's campaign operation accuses her of failing to protect Arizona from Islamic State terrorists supposedly infiltrating from Mexico, which administration officials label baseless.

—Arizona 2: The $11.7 million in total spending reported Friday makes this rematch between freshman Democrat Ron Barber and GOP challenger Martha McSally one of the nation's costliest, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Barber worked for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords when both were wounded in a 2011 mass shooting, and her Americans for Responsible Solutions has spent $1.5 million for him. Republicans dispute Barber's claims that he's independent, saying he backs President Barack Obama's policies.

—Florida 18: Romney carried this coastal district by 4 percentage points when Democrat Patrick Murphy squeaked to victory in 2012. This time as an incumbent freshman, Murphy has an enormous financial edge over Republican Carl Domino and is favored to win.

—Georgia 12: Five-term Rep. John Barrow is one of Congress' most conservative Democrats and a perennial GOP target. Heavy outside Republican spending has been nearly matched by Democrats, but Barrow's campaign has outraised that of his GOP opponent, businessman Rick Allen, by nearly 2-1. Romney won here by 15 percentage points.

—Minnesota 7: Republicans say Democrat Collin Peterson, in the House since 1991, is too supportive of Obama and has lost touch with constituents. Peterson is helped in his farm district by his perch as senior Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee and voters' longtime familiarity with him. Romney carried this district by 10 percentage points.

—North Carolina 7: With moderate Democrat Mike McIntyre's retirement, it seems certain that this southeastern corner of the state will elect Republican David Rouzer over Democrat Jonathan Barfield. Rouzer is a former aide to the late conservative Sen. Jesse Helms and came within 654 votes of ousting McIntyre two years ago, when Romney won here by 19 percentage points.

—Texas 23: In this huge West Texas district that encompasses two time zones, Gov. Rick Perry has cut a recent ad for GOP challenger Will Hurd as Republicans try to defeat freshman Democrat Pete Gallego. The GOP criticizes Gallego for refusing to roll back Obama's health care law. A recent Democratic ad accused Hurd, a former CIA agent, of backing cuts for veterans and education. Romney won here by only 3 percentage points.

—Utah 4: Democrat Jim Matheson is retiring, setting the stage for a seemingly sure victory by Mia Love, a former mayor whom Matheson edged out in 2012. Love has a huge cash advantage over Democrat Doug Owens in a district Romney carried by 37 percentage points.

—West Virginia 3: First elected when Jimmy Carter became president in 1976, Democrat Nick Rahall has seen his recent victory margins dwindle in a coal district that is growing more conservative and favored Romney over Obama by nearly 2-1. Ads backing GOP state Sen. Evan Jenkins accuse Rahall of supporting Obama's regulatory "War on Coal," and in an interview Jenkins called Rahall "a foot soldier" for the president. In an interview, Rahall said, "This is about who has the seniority and experience to deliver" for the state.