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Last Call: Democrats Are Running Out Of Time to Find Solid House Candidates

Well, the star search for solid House candidates for 2016 is coming to a close for the Democrats. It’s last call–and they have some absences in their roster. Nevertheless, the same goes for Republicans, who are missing some candidates in competitive races, according to Roll Call. Yet, the publication added that recruitment is much harder for Democrats since they got pummeled in 2014. The Democrats aren’t worried since Hillary is going to be at the top of the ticket, but their consultants admit that the time frame in finding good people to run next year is rapidly coming to a close:


Among the seats Democrats must win in 2016 if they have any shot at chipping away at Republicans’ 30-seat House majority — but where the party still doesn’t have recruits — is upstate New York’s 24th District. The Syracuse-based seat voted for President Barack Obama by a 16-point margin in 2012, making it one of the most Democratic districts held by a Republican in the country, but so far no candidate has emerged to take on freshman Republican Rep. John Katko.

In California’s 21st District, a seat Obama carried by an 11-point spread in 2012 but that is now held by two-term GOP Rep. David Valadao, Democrats are hunting for a stronger recruit after the current candidate posted a measly $24,000 fundraising haul in the second quarter. And in Iowa’s 3rd District, a competitive seat held by freshman GOP Rep. David Young, Democrats are also without a recruit. Democratic former Gov. Chet Culver is mulling a run there, but it’s unclear when or if he’ll announce.

Still, national Democrats say they are unconcerned about the current state of recruitment, noting there are potential recruits mulling bids behind the scenes in a number of districts — though they declined to name names or specify which seats.


Yet multiple Democratic operatives cede it’s typically harder to recruit a cycle after bruising losses. In 2014, Democrats saw a net loss of 13 seats.


But a month into the third quarter, a number of Democratic consultants say the window to find strong candidates is slowly closing.


Yet, let’s be honest. The chances that Democrats can win back the House of Representatives next year is quite slim, even with her highness, Hillary Rodham Clinton, leading her party, which seems to have been met with a soporific reception (for now). The New York Times’ Nate Cohn wrote after the 2014 midterms that it’s not inconceivable that Republicans have a lock on the House for the next generation. Yet, that all ends if the GOP loses at the state-level, which oftentimes goes underreported.

Republicans control two-thirds of the governorships and hold the most state legislative seats since 1920. This is where the districts are drawn, hence why the Republican State Leadership Committee launched their REDMAP 2020, which carries with it a $125 million investment goal through 2022, on July 16, according to their press release:

“We are launching REDMAP 2020 to stay on offense at a time when Republicans are at historic highs in state chambers around the country,” said RSLC Chairman Bill McCollum. "The launch of REDMAP 2010 marked the beginning of strong gains in the number of Republican-controlled legislative bodies at the state level that led to helping both solidify a Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and winning back the U.S. Senate a few years later. It’s important to maintain that success at all levels of government, and by investing $125 million over the next seven years, we plan to help do just that.”

“When we started REDMAP in 2010, we were able to utilize the in-depth knowledge and resources of the RSLC’s vast network of Republican elected leaders who represent all 50 states,” said SGLF Chairman and former NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds. Reynolds served as REDMAP Chairman in 2010. “To now expand that role from winning critical legislative majorities that help shape the redistricting process to also providing targeted legal strategic advice and commentary for ongoing redistricting legislation is exciting for the REDMAP 2020 program. It’s exciting for the future of the Republicans Party.”

Through REDMAP 2010, the RSLC raised $30 million and led Republicans to take control of 21 new chambers, including capturing control of both chambers in several states President Obama went on to win twice: Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Republicans today control a Party-record 69 of 99 state legislative chambers. REDMAP 2020 will work to maintain the historic highs we hold today, including those in Obama-blue states, while working to pick up additional majorities in states like Kentucky, Maine and New Mexico where the legislatures play a vital role in crafting district boundaries, and Republicans currently control only one of the two state chambers.


Kentucky’s State House of Representatives is one of the last legislative chambers with a Democratic majority in the South. Of course, that’s on the hit list, but Democrats also know the significance of state-level elections, albeit they have a lot more rebuilding to do. Hillary Clinton has made rebuilding such political infrastructures–which have withered to irrelevance in many states–a priority if she’s elected president. It’s to the point where Democrats literally have no one to succeed the current Democratic leadership in Congress, which is increasingly becoming older. The state-level is where the new talent is found–and Democrats don’t have those connections anymore. Nevertheless, they’re also fundraising and mobilizing their political forces to win back state legislatures in the hopes they can redraw the congressional map (via WaPo):

Both Democrats and Republicans think controlling state legislatures in 2020 is one of the most important political battles to fight, mostly for one reason: The power of the pen -- the kind that draws district lines, that is.


Some analysts think the current map is such that Democrats simply won't be able to win a majority on it, barring a massive wave in their direction.


After another great 2014 midterm election for Republicans, the party now controls an all-time high of 68 of 98 state chambers. That's the potential to rewrite a lot of lines.

Sensing a winning game plan, Democrats are getting in now, too. They launched Advantage 2020 last year, a super PAC that hopes to raise $70 million to play exclusively in states where redistricting is on the line. (Compare that with the $10 million they raised in 2010.)


Expect the first of the redistricting battles to take place a little closer to Capitol Hill: Control of the Virginia senate is in question in the fall.

You can bet RedMap 2020 and Advantage 2020 will be there, with an eye toward the future.


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