Reps. Kind, Walz on GOP target list for 2018

Published 1:40 pm Saturday, February 18, 2017

WASHINGTON — The National Republican Congressional Committee’s initial list of offensive targets for 2018 includes 36 Democratically-held districts, many in blue-collar areas of the country. Included on the list are Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, and Tim Walz, D-Mankato.

If Democrats are targeting the well-educated suburbs (see New Jersey’s 11th District, for example), where Donald Trump either barely won or underperformed, Republicans are going after many rural seats where Hillary Clinton underperformed the congressional ticket.

Three Minnesota Democrats from rural parts of the state are on the GOP House committee’s target list. Democratic-Farmer-Labor Rep. Rick Nolan has been a top target for the past two cycles, and his 8th District race is consistently among the most expensive House race in the nation. Nolan won re-election by less than a point in his sprawling Iron Range district last fall, while Trump carried it by 16 points.

Tim Walz

Tim Walz

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Next door in the 7th District, DFL Rep. Collin C. Peterson again finds himself a GOP target after being targeted heavily in 2014 and then getting away without national GOP attention in 2016. But despite bragging before the election about his underfunded challenger, who received no national assistance, Peterson only won re-election in 2016 by 5 points in a district Trump carried by more than 30 points.

In the southern part of the state, Walz also had a surprisingly close re-election for not having been a national GOP target in 2016. He won by less than a point in the 1st District, where Trump won by 15 points. This year, he’s a target.

Republicans are targeting nine other districts where Clinton lost. Those seats include Rep. Cheri Bustos’ in Illinois’ 17th District, Rep. Tom O’Halleran in Arizona’s 1st District, Rep. Dave Loebsack’s in Iowa’s 2nd District, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter’s in New Hampshire’s 1st District, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s in New York’s 18th District, Rep. Josh Gottheimer’s in New Jersey’s 5th District, Rep. Matt Cartwright’s in Pennsylvania’s 17th District, Rep. Jacky Rosen’s in Nevada’s 3rd District and Kind’s in Wisconsin’s 3rd District.

Seats that Clinton narrowly won, like New Hampshire Rep. Ann McLane Kuster’s 2nd District, are also on the list. Others include Connecticut Rep. Joe Courtney’s 2nd District, Connecticut Rep. Elizabeth Esty’s 5th District, Florida Rep. Charlie Crist’s 13th District, Michigan Rep. Dan Kildee’s 5th District, Nevada Rep. Ruben Kihuen’s 4th District, Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio’s 4th District and Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader’s 5th District.

Republicans are also targeting some seats where Clinton won more comfortably. In Florida’s 7th District, the NRCC is on offensive against freshman Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy, who knocked off longtime GOP Rep. John Mica last fall in a redistricted seat.

California Rep. Ami Bera was one of the NRCC’s three main Democratic targets last cycle, and he’s once again a target this cycle. Clinton won his district by 7 points, but expect Republicans to double down on the congressman’s father’s guilty plea for making illegal contributions to his son’s campaigns.

The NRCC will again contest New York’s 3rd District, which Democrat Tom Suozzi won last fall after Rep. Steve Israel’s retirement. Clinton won the Long Island district by about 6 points. The NRCC is targeting Rep. Raul Ruiz in California’s 36th District, a seat with a slight GOP advantage but that Clinton won by 9 points.

In two Midwestern districts, Republicans are targeting Michigan Rep. Sander Levin and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, whose districts Clinton carried by 8 and 7 points, respectively.

The NRCC is also going after a handful of districts that Clinton won by double digits, some by as much as 22 points. Those seats include Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema’s 9th District, California freshman Rep. Salud Carbajal’s 24th District, California Rep. Scott Peters’ 52nd District, Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s 7th District, Massachusetts Rep. Bill Keatings’ 9th District, Maryland Rep. John Delaney’s 6th District, Washington Reps. Derek Kilmer’s 6th District and Denny Heck’s 10th District. In New Mexico, the NRCC is targeting the 1st District seat being vacated by Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham at the end of the term and the 3rd District seat held by Democratic Congressional Campaign Chairman Ben Ray Luján.