The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Another Batch of NRCC Young Guns Comes to Washington


Observations from the latest NRCC Young Guns event:

  • Jon Runyan, GOP candidate in New Jersey’s 3rd district and a former Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman, stands out in a crowd. I think he could hold my head in the palm of one hand. He notices that his rival, Democrat John Adler, is trying to hold up his vote against Obamacare as proof that he’s a moderate or independent, but Runyan says that argument isn’t plausible when you vote with Nancy Pelosi 90 percent of the time, and points to Adler’s 16 years of reliably liberal voting in the state senate as further evidence. “Look at the mess in Trenton he helped leave for our governor,” he said. Speaking of the governor, Chris Christie has campaigned for Runyan and the candidate hopes to be joined by him again; at first glance, there may not be a stage in the state big enough for Runyan and Christie.
  • I liked this observation from Mike Kelly, running against Kathy Dahlkemper in Pennsylvania’s 3rd district: “The only difference between the voters in this district and me is that my name is on the ballot.”
  • Mo Brooks aims to be the first Republican elected in his Alabama district since 1868. The district is currently represented by Parker Griffith, a Democrat until he switched parties earlier this cycle; Brooks won the three-way GOP primary over Griffith and another Republican easily. He says Democrats in the district were depressed when one of their own left them, then were fired up about the chance to run against him, and now that Brooks is the nominee and leading healthily in this conservative district, “they’re depressed again.”
  • Nan Hayworth, who just won her primary in New York’s 19th district, apologizes when she cites the Public Policy Polling survey of her district commissioned by Daily Kos. I figure no apology is needed when citing a poll showing her narrowly leading the Democrat incumbent, John Hall. She describes the mood in her district as “anger, tinged with desperation . . . But now there’s some excitement that there is a chance to change it.”
  • Sandy Adams has a lot of factors going in her favor in her race against Suzanne Kosmas in Florida’s 24th district, but probably none more powerful than the district’s sense of betrayal. Kosmas ran as a fiscal moderate and was helped by an Obama wave; in 2008, the Democratic presidential candidate was pledging to save manned spaceflight. Kosmas defied her district by voting for health-care reform, and many figured she had traded her vote to the Obama administration for some sort of deal to save Space Coast jobs. Instead, President Obama’s space-policy changes are effectively ending manned spaceflight*, disastrous news for workers in her district.
  • I ran into Bobby Schilling, the once-longshot Illinois Republican whom I mentioned as a potential upset early in this cycle. He thanked me for that early expression of confidence in his chances, and I told him no thanks were necessary; 50 percent of that assessment stemmed from the opportunistic, pugnacious style of his campaign and the other 50 percent reflected the fact that his rival, incumbent Democrat Phil Hare, is such a [coarse term that would make Andrew Dice Clay blush]. Schilling laughed and noted that Hare’s personality is not wearing well in the district. He said that the two key counties in the state’s 17th district are Rock Island and Macon; Schilling feels he has a bit of an advantage compared to other recent GOP House candidates in this district because of his roots in Rock Island. He added his campaign has made 120,000 live calls to voters in the district so far.

The NRCC now has 75 candidates at the “Young Gun” level, which is a threshold that varies by district. In short, this is the NRCC saying, “These folks have promise and are running good campaigns.”

* This is Adams’ assessment; Rand Simberg disagrees.

Tags: Bobby Schilling , Jon Runyan , Mo Brooks , Nan Hayworth , Sandy Adams


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