Hi, Chris Smith! Today, DCCC Chair Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico announced 7 new target districts the Democrats intend to make 2018 midterm priorities. One of them’s Rep. Chris Smith’s NJ-4 seat, which he’s held since 1981, batting away Democratic challengers easily for an incredible 37 years.
Jersey is covered: This means DCCC is making it a priority to take all 5 of the NJ congressional seats currently held by Republicans. Four districts were already targeted since last year; NJ-2 (LoBiondo), NJ-3 (MacArthur), NJ-7 (Lance) , NJ-11 (Frelinghuysen). Since then, 2 of those 4 announced they’re out; LoBo and Frelinghuysen. DCCC’s already put NJ-11 Dem Mikie Sherrill on their favored-candidate Red to Blue list. Lance presides over one of only 23 GOP districts nationwide that Hillary Clinton won; making even the famously cautious Lance vulnerable. And there’s national interest in taking down MacArthur, who took a lead role in GOP’s effort to take down the ACA.
Resistance: DCCC attention follows massive resistance action on the ground – driven less by the traditional Democratic Party infrastructure, and more by outside activist/resistance groups.
Ravi Bhalla: Lujan made this announcement at the 193-member Democratic caucus’ annual 3-day issues conference. Joe Biden was there yesterday, talking party unity. Clinton-wing fave Terry McAuliffe and Obama AG Eric Holder (whose new focus is gerrymandering) are speaking. So is freshly-minted mayor Ravi Bhalla, discussing how Republican policies have affected the city he now runs, Hoboken.
24 seats: The Dems need 24 seats to flip the House, but the haul could be 40 or even higher. The 7 new ones bring DCCC’s total targets to 101 – 98 GOP seats, plus 3 open Dem seats – biggest list in a decade. An ambitious program designed both to throw a scare into Republicans already reeling with how distaste for President Trump might hurt them in the midterms. It’s also an incursion right into Republicans’ safety zone – Chris Smith’s 37-year safe seat is an example. Trump won all 7 of these new targets by double digits. The new 7:
Alaska’s At-Large District, held by GOP Rep. Don Young. Trump won Alaska by 15 points.
Maryland’s 1st District, held by GOP Rep. Andy Harris. Trump won the 1st District by 29 points.
New Jersey’s 4th District, held by GOP Rep. Christopher H. Smith, which Trump won by 15 points.
Ohio’s 15th District, held by GOP Rep. Steve Stivers, NRCC chair. Trump won Stivers’ district by 15 points.
South Carolina’s 5th District, held by GOP Rep. Ralph Norman. Trump won the 5th District by 18 points.
Texas’ 31st District, held by GOP Rep. John Carter. Trump won the 31st District by 13 points.
Wisconsin’s 7th District, held by GOP Rep. Sean Duffy, which Trump won by 20 points.
But it’s not all sunshine, cupcakes, and unicorns. Nationally, the Democratic Party is still struggling to redefine itself after a disastrous 2016 election, the massive loss of state seats during the Obama years, DNC’s corrupted conduct in the last presidential primary, and lingering DNC internal problems including fundraising and leadership. Trump’s approval rating is climbing from the gutter, while Democrats’ lead in the generic ballot test, a key measure for congressional races, is dropping.
But let’s not let any of that stop us, mmkay?