The NRCC's head, Rep. Tom Reynolds (R) who is too chickenshit of his own party to put the word "Republican" on his campaign website
, gave the subscription-only Roll Call names of some of the most endangered Republican incumbents:
- Connecticut Reps. Nancy Johnson, Christopher Shays and Rob Simmons. Reynolds said all three are running excellent campaigns, despite the "tough" environment.
"Chris Shays has been a candidate, and an active candidate, for well over a year. Sometimes he [begins] much later after he works very hard as a Member of Congress, and then starts a campaign, maybe [around] now. That's not the case with him" this year.
- Ohio Reps. Steve Chabot, Bob Ney and Deborah Pryce. "Ohio's got a lot of action in it," Reynolds said. "We will just make sure that because the Democrats have targeted [it], that our candidates are out and moving forward."
- Pennsylvania Reps. Michael Fitzpatrick, Jim Gerlach and Curt Weldon. "The Philadelphia suburbs are tough turf," Reynolds said. "How well [GOP Sen.] Rick Santorum does in the Philadelphia suburbs means whether he comes back. Three seats are in there."
Gerlach, he said, is "in one of the tougher seats in the country." And Weldon "has a serious opponent running against him; the retired rear vice admiral of the Navy in his race."
- Rep. Clay Shaw (Fla.). "Clay Shaw has a tough race in Florida almost every time" Reynolds said. "[His opponent] is a skilled state Senator coming at 'em. I think that Shaw is clearly down there working. He's raising money; this isn't new for him."
- Rep. Heather Wilson (N.M.). "Heather Wilson has one of the toughest seats in the country. The race starts almost the day after election. I think Heather, as an Air Force Academy grad, Rhodes scholar, is like a combat veteran of politics. She is totally focused."
- Rep. Jon Porter (Nev.). Senate Minority Leader "Harry Reid [D-Nev.] handpicked his opponent and is coming at him," Reynolds said. "Five thousand new people a month are showing up in that Las Vegas-based seat. I think Porter is doing everything right. ... Jim Gibbons (R), our colleague from Reno, is running for governor, I think that bodes well."
- Indiana Reps. John Hostettler and Mike Sodrel. "When you look at Mike Sodrel, he's going to have a tough re-elect, he knows that," Reynolds said. "He's taken two trips to my knowledge, one to Afghanistan and then one to Iraq. The rest of the time he is home working in his district, grinding out the race, town by town."
Republican Incumbents on Reynolds' "Watch" List
- Bilbray and Rep. Richard Pombo (Calif.). "I've noticed that there hasn't been too much attention on Richard from Democratic circles," Reynolds said.
- Rep. Dave Reichert (Wash.). "We'll watch Reichert in the area of the state of Washington," Reynolds said. "I'll say to you that, one of the things I've had for a hunch that we'll see if it plays out: I think Washington Republicans felt ripped off when they lost their governor's race. I think there's an intensity of voter interest both in the U.S. Senate seat as well as some of the House seats."
Democratic indifference to Pombo's seat may very well be an artifact of the trouncing Democrat McNerney gave the DCCC's chosen candidate in the Democratic primary. If so, they need to get over themselves and give this district a strong look. The excitement locally is incredible. Bay Area Dems are putting in a lot of time in this seat just over the Berkeley Hills.
As to Reynold's targets:
- Rep. Alan Mollohan (W.Va.), who is facing state Del. Chris Wakim (R). "Mollohan is [in] a Republican seat," Reynolds said. "He's been banged up in media accounts. We have a very good candidate in Wakim, who is a West Point grad, Harvard educated; came home, started his family business with his wife. ...We're going to continue helping him -- we like everything we see there."
- Rep. John Spratt (S.C.), who faces state Rep. Ralph Norman (R). This is "John Spratt's toughest race since, probably, '94," Reynolds said.
- Rep. Melissa Bean (Ill.), who faces investment banker David McSweeney. "That is a good Republican seat," Reynolds said. "We have a very good candidate there in McSweeney. He is continuing to do the things he needs to do."
- Georgia Reps. John Barrow and Jim Marshall, who face former Republican Reps. Max Burns and Mac Collins, respectively. "I've seen good results in Max's effort there, both in shoe-leather retail politics, and in fundraising," Reynolds said. "He's a pretty interesting guy."
- Rep. Leonard Boswell (Iowa), who faces state Senate Co-President Jeff Lamberti (R). Boswell "has never been a great performer in this seat," Reynolds said. "We're very impressed with where we are."
- Rep. Charlie Melancon (La.), who faces state Sen. Craig Romero (R). "This guy's filing was $1.2 million in the second quarter," Reynolds said. "I promise you he got my attention. I think there's an interesting opportunity there."
- Rep. Chet Edwards (Texas), who is facing Iraq war veteran Van Taylor (R). "I've always been impressed when I've been down there helping [Taylor] raise money with the type of people he brings to events," Reynolds said.
- Rep. Rick Larsen (Wash.), who faces retired Navy officer Doug Roulstone (R). Roulstone "is, every day, moving forward in the types of things he needs to do as a candidate and a fundraiser," Reynolds said.
Update: The DCCC notices that a few races are missing from Reynold's list:
House Republicans spent more than $450,000 on extensive polling in 28 districts over a two-week period this month, as a recent flurry of publicly released Democratic polls have shown many GOP incumbents either behind or in a vulnerable position to win re-election.
The National Republican Congressional Committee will not comment on the surveys it paid for through independent expenditures, and it seems unlikely, given the current national political environment, much of the data will ever be released.
But the polls do provide further confirmation of the 2006 House battleground and the fact that Republicans largely are playing defense in districts around the country. At least one poll was taken in a district that isn’t considered competitive this cycle, though it has been in the past.
The districts the NRCC polled but weren't included in Reynold's presentation:
Shelley Moore Capito (WV)
Chris Chocola (IN)
Geoff Davis (KY)
Thelma Drake (VA)
Marilyn Musgrave (CO)
Charles Taylor (NC)
The "not competitive district" must be Capito's district in West Virginia, since nothing I've seen puts it in the takeover category. If they're worried about Capito, they're in for a rough night election day.
And as the DCCC's Jesse Lee points out:
[J]ust like with our recent ad buy, this is only an opening gambit. Neither committee wants to go out there too publicly with the full list of districts which are on the radar screen -- we only scheduled air time for districts where it would not be a major surprise or tip our hand, and which were virtually certain to be competitive all the way through. Tom Reynolds, similarly, is only conceding vulnerability where it already would have defied credibility to deny it. Obviously the six mentioned above immediately undermine him, but there certainly are many others -- for just a few examples, Jean Schmidt comes to mind, Idaho, Wyoming, not to mention all the upstate New Yorkers, including Tom Reynolds himself. Pretty absurd to claim he's not even watching his own race when he's already on the air and running from his own party...
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