The Republican Party’s House campaign arm announced its 10 highest-priority incumbents Wednesday, naming the members who will get special attention from party leaders as the GOP tries to fend off a fierce push by Democrats to retake the House in 2018.
The 10 House members will participate in the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Patriot Program, which offers fundraising and organizational assistance beyond what’s available to rank-and-file GOP members.
Four of them are veterans of Patriot Program, having participated in the 2016 cycle: Reps. Barbara Comstock (Va.), Will Hurd (Tex.), Steve Knight (Calif.) and David Valadao (Calif.). Five others are freshmen who prevailed last year in swing districts: Reps. John Faso (N.Y.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Jason Lewis (Minn.), Brian Mast (Fla.) and Claudia Tenney (N.Y.). The tenth is a House veteran, Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.), who barely eked out a victory in an increasingly competitive San Diego-area district.
Those 10 all appear on a list of 59 targeted seats released last month by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Fitzpatrick, Hurd, Issa, Lewis and Tenney also represent districts where the DCCC is already hiring field operatives to do organizing work ahead of 2018.
Patriot Program participants posted an impressive batting average in 2016: Of the 20 candidates named to the program in the last cycle, only three — Bob Dold (Ill.), Frank Guinta (N.H.), and Cresent Hardy (Nev.) — lost their general election races. A fourth, Dan Benishek (Mich.), chose to retire and was replaced by a fellow Republican.
Notably absent from the initial list of this year’s NRCC Patriots are a handful of Republican members who were included in the 2016 program and were expected to endure tough reelection challenges in 2016 but ended up winning relatively handily — such as Reps. Carlos Curbelo (Fla.), Martha McSally (Ariz.), Bruce Poliquin (Maine) and Lee Zeldin (N.Y.). Also in that category is Rep. John Katko (N.Y.), who now chairs the Patriot program under NRCC chairman Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), and more participants could be added later.
“Our Patriots are a group of battle-tested members who won hard-fought races in 2016 and are ready to win once again,” Stivers said in a statement. “Each of these members is not only an effective member in Congress, but an integral advocate for the communities they serve. The NRCC stands squarely behind each of these candidates and will work tirelessly on their behalf to ensure their important voices continue to represent their constituents.”