Campaigns

House Republicans identify vulnerable members for 2020

NRCC announces initial eight members of Patriot Program

The NRCC has added New York Rep. Lee Zeldin to its Patriot Program for the 2020 cycle. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Eight House Republicans, including the three from districts won by Hillary Clinton in 2016, have been named to the National Republican Congressional Committee’s list of incumbents expected to face tough re-elections. 

Members of the Patriot Program typically benefit from fundraising and organizational assistance. The list can be a signal to donors to direct checks to members in need.

“While Democrats continue to call them ‘targets,’ the NRCC will be empowering these members to stay on offense and run aggressive, organized campaigns against their Democratic challengers,” New York Rep. John Katko, Patriot Program chairman, said in a statement Friday. 

House Republicans lost a net of 40 seats in last fall’s midterm elections, and the party needs to pick up 18 or 19 seats next year to win the majority back (depending on the outcome of a special election in North Carolina this year). The campaign committee previously announced 55 Democratic targets. 

Democrats have a large freshman class to defend next year, including many members in districts President Donald Trump carried in 2016. But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is hoping to expand its majority, identifying 32 GOP seats to target, with an early investment in Texas

Half of the GOP’s Patriot Program designees are from Texas. Two on the list — Texas’ Will Hurd and Pennsylvania’s Brian Fitzpatrick — were on the initial list for the 2018 cycle. Six of the 10 Republicans on that list lost last fall.

Only one of the eight Republicans on the initial list is in a race rated a Toss-up by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. The rest are in contests rated as tilting, leaning or likely to remain Republican.

Here’s the breakdown:

Michigan Rep. Fred Upton

The former chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee won re-election in the 6th District by less than 5 points last fall. Democrats would like him to retire, but he raised $323,000 during the first three months of this year — more than he did during the same period two years ago — suggesting he might be hoping to stick around. Trump carried his district by about 8 points in 2016. Inside Elections rates the race Likely Republican. 

Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon

The two-term Republican won re-election in the 2nd District by less than 2 points. His Democratic challenger from last year is running again, as is the wife of his Democratic predecessor Brad Ashford, whom he unseated in 2016. Trump carried the district by 2 points in 2016. Inside Elections rates the race Leans Republican. 

New York Rep. Lee Zeldin

Zeldin is running for a fourth term in a Long Island district that Trump carried by 12 points. He won re-election in the 1st District by 4 points. Inside Elections rates his race Likely Republican. 

New York Rep. John Katko 

The chairman of the Patriot Program makes the list as one of three remaining House Republicans who represents districts that Clinton won in 2016. He’s been an elusive Democratic target, winning re-election in the 24th District by 5 points last fall. Inside Elections rates his race Leans Republican.

Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick

This sophomore Republican, who sits in one of the other Clinton districts, won re-election to the 1st District last year by less than 3 points. Inside Elections rates his race Tilts Republican. 

Texas Rep. Michael McCaul

The former chairman of the Homeland Security Committee won an eighth term in the 10th District by 4 points. Trump carried his district by 9 points. Inside Elections rates the race Likely Republican. 

Texas Rep. Pete Olson

The six-term Republican won re-election in the 22nd District by less than 5 points. Trump carried his district by 8 points. Inside Elections rates the race Leans Republican.  

Texas Rep. Will Hurd

The three-term Republican, who sits in the third Clinton district, has been a perennial Democratic target. He narrowly survived in the 23rd District last fall, defeating his Democratic opponent by less than half a point. Inside Elections rates his race a Toss-up. 

Texas Rep. John Carter

Carter won a ninth term last fall by less than 3 points. Trump carried the 31st district by 13 points. Inside Elections rates the race Leans Republican. 

Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler

The five-term Republican won re-election last fall by 5 points. Trump carried the 3rd District by 7 points. Inside Elections rates the race Likely Republican.

Watch: What race ratings really mean and how we create them

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