Campaigns

Democrats identify 44 vulnerable House members to defend in 2020

Almost all the members named to the Democrats’ Frontline Program are freshmen

Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger, left, and Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin are among the freshmen whom the DCCCC has named to its Frontline program for its most vulnerable incumbents. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats made historic gains in the House last fall, and now they need to defend those seats heading into the 2020 election. 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Thursday named 44 members to its Frontline Program for its most vulnerable incumbents.

The committee already released a list of 33 offensive targets, but with so many freshmen in districts that President Donald Trump won in 2016, the DCCC will be working to hold those seats during a presidential year.

“Our majority hinges on these members from tough seats winning reelection in 2020, and with today’s announcement we’re sending a clear message that the DCCC will stand shoulder to shoulder with them in the fight ahead,” DCCC chairwoman Cheri Bustos of Illinois said in a statement.

Only three incumbents on Frontline are not freshmen: Reps. Tom O’Halleran of Arizona, Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania.

Several incumbents in Trump districts who have been on Frontline in the past aren’t on the list this cycle. They include Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, Dave Loebsack of Iowa and Bustos, who’s the chair of the DCCC. All of these incumbents won re-election comfortably in 2018. 

The 2016 presidential performance in these districts is an important factor heading into another presidential election cycle.

For example, Connecticut freshman Rep. Jahana Hayes is on the list, despite having won election last fall by 12 points in what was a safe Democratic seat. But Hillary Clinton carried Connecticut’s 5th District by just 4 points in 2016.

Similarly, freshman Rep. Jennifer Wexton, who won a perennial battleground in northern Virginia last fall, is not on the list. Wexton defeated former GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock by a comfortable 12 points in a suburban district where the president was unpopular. Clinton had carried the 10th District by 10 points. Likewise, in a Minnesota district where Trump was deeply unpopular, freshman Rep. Dean Phillips is not on the list, despite knocking off longtime Republican Erik Paulsen

Here are the 44 members on the Frontline roster:

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