• The Star Staff

House Republicans announce 47 Democrats they hope to unseat

By Reid J. Epstein

The House Republicans’ campaign arm Wednesday revealed the list of 47 House Democrats it will target in the 2022 midterm elections, whose results are likely to be determined largely by the popularity of President Joe Biden.

The National Republican Congressional Committee’s list includes 25 Democrats who were first elected in the Democrats’ 2018 wave election and seven incumbents who represent districts that voted for former President Donald Trump in November. It includes a wide array of moderate Democrats, including Reps. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania, who have publicly sparred with the party’s more liberal wing in recent months.

The target list comes three months after House Republicans outperformed preelection polling and flipped 15 Democratic-held seats in last year’s elections. The party out of power typically does well in midterm elections: Since World War II, the president’s party has lost an average of 27 House seats in midterm elections.

The 2022 elections have the potential to carry a dynamic unseen in previous midterm contests — a referendum on a previous president’s actions. Democrats have already signaled they aim to tie House Republicans to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol by a crowd incited by Trump.

Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the NRCC chairman, forcefully condemned the rioters during a Wednesday video conference with reporters but also welcomed campaign assistance from Trump. He said that his committee would continue to embrace the former president and would maintain its policy of not taking sides in primaries — even to help incumbent members who voted to impeach the former president.

“President Trump and his administration implemented some amazing policies for this country, right?” Emmer said. “The economic policies that they advanced, his energy policy, putting Americans and America first, that policy, it was all good. It brought in a ton of new voters to our party. I think Republicans need to celebrate those policies; I think we need to continue to embrace them.”

The Republicans’ list is speculative, given that it will be months before states are able to begin drawing new congressional district lines. The Census Bureau is already late in delivering reapportionment and redistricting data to states, delaying until at least late summer a process that typically begins in February or March.

The tardiness of the census data has left both parties’ congressional campaign committees in limbo as they seek to recruit candidates for presumptive districts. Sun Belt states like Texas and Florida are expected to add multiple new House districts, while Northern states including Illinois, Ohio and New York are likely to lose at least one seat each.

Emmer said Republicans would “win redistricting” and “maximize our opportunities.”

“What I’m talking about is fair and transparent, and that the districts make sense and that they reflect not only the geography of the state and that they are a fair representation of the demography of the state,” he said.

Seven House Democrats who represent districts Trump carried in November are on the NRCC list: Reps. Cindy Axne of Iowa, Cheri Bustos of Illinois, Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania, Jared Golden of Maine, Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, Andy Kim of New Jersey and Ron Kind of Wisconsin.

Bustos, who led the House Democrats’ campaign arm in 2020, had margins of victory that shrunk from 24 percentage points in 2018 to 4 points in 2020. But with Illinois certain to lose at least one seat, her gerrymandered district, which snakes around to include Democratic-leaning sections of Peoria and Rockford along with the Illinois portion of the Quad Cities, will change before she faces voters again.

The NRCC also believes a handful of Democrats who underperformed Biden may be vulnerable against better-funded challengers. Those Democrats include Reps. Katie Porter and Mike Levin of California, who both had significantly less support than Biden in November.

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