The Things You Learn From a Roomful of House GOP Candidates
Things I learned at a recent meeting of the “Young Guns” at the National Republican Congressional Committee:
In West Virginia, Gov. Joe Manchin, who is likely to be the Democrats’ nominee in the race for the Senate, cannot use the $140,000 left in his gubernatorial campaign fund in a Senate campaign. So he’s effectively starting from scratch. His most likely rival, Republican John Raese, ran against Robert Byrd in 2006 and spent $1.5 million of his own fortune. Manchin is still a favorite, but this is a complication.
Andy Barr’s House race in Kentucky will probably be the first one called on election night; polls in Kentucky close at 6 p.m. Eastern. If Barr beats three-term incumbent Ben Chandler, it will be an early indicator of a good night for the GOP.
A sleeper issue in Arkansas’s 1st congressional district: The Federal Emergency Management Agency is remapping flood zones, and dramatically expanding the number of counties in this district that are defined as within a flood zone. Homeowners in the expanded zone will have to purchase FEMA-approved flood insurance, at a cost of $2,000 per year. Republican Rick Crawford vehemently opposes the expansion; he accuses Democrat Chad Causey of not having a clear position on the FEMA plan.
In Illinois, Randy Hultgren wonders where his opponent, incumbent Democrat Bill Foster, is. He says Foster events are rarely publicized ahead of time, and he rarely if ever does traditional “town hall” meetings. There’s even speculation that Foster doesn’t come back to the district that often; an entire 30 minutes from O’Hare, it’s not like it’s hard to get to from Washington.
Kristi Noem’s early success running in South Dakota’s at-large district against incumbent Stephanie Herseth Sandlin has prompted the DCCC to purchase $500,000 in air time in the final two weeks before Election Day. That’s a phenomenal amount of money to spend on one of the least expensive states in the country; a half-million buys a lot of air time in South Dakota.
Mick Mulvaney, running against John Spratt in South Carolina, just wants to keep the spending race reasonably close. “If I have enough resources to get my message out, it doesn’t matter how much he has to get his message out.”
Plenty of Republicans from districts that McCain won handily — like David McKinley in West Virginia’s 1st district — joked that they would love to see President Obama appear on behalf of their Democratic rivals. But Keith Fimian, running against Democrat Gerry Connolly in northern Virginia’s suburban district, said the same thing. He noted that Obama won the district handily in 2008, but then the GOP’s Bob McDonnell won 55 percent in this district in 2009. This year, Connolly won’t have that helpful Obama wave or any top-of-the-ticket help; this year, he is the top of the ticket.