House Democrats identify vulnerable incumbents for 2018 cycle

House Democrats identify vulnerable incumbents for 2018 cycle
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

The House Democratic campaign arm on Monday announced the 19 members considered most vulnerable in the 2018 election cycle who will benefit from its incumbent protection program.

More members could be added or removed from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s (DCCC) “Frontline Program,” which provides candidates with extra fundraising and campaign infrastructure support.

Democrats need to win 24 seats to win back the House in 2018, which will mean they need to protect virtually all of their incumbents in addition to flipping GOP-held districts. It’s a tall order after House Democrats flipped only nine seats in 2016, with a net gain of just six.

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The list includes most of the 12 Democrats who represent districts won by President Trump in November. But four such lawmakers are notably absent: Reps. Tim Walz (Minn.), Ron KindRon KindNew bill does hard job of injecting capital into needy communities House GOP campaign arm targets Democrats over ObamaCare anniversary Here's how Congress can get people to live healthy lifestyles MORE (Wis.), Matt Cartwright (Pa.) and Collin Peterson (Minn.).

Kind, Cartwright and Peterson are considered strong incumbents who generally haven’t faced tough general election challenges in recent years, despite representing districts won by Trump. Kind ran unopposed in last year's election.

Walz, meanwhile, is considering a run for Minnesota governor in 2018 after narrowly winning reelection to the House last year. He said last month that he expects to make a decision about a possible gubernatorial bid by April. 

The other eight Democrats in Trump-backing districts are on the DCCC’s list: Reps. Rick Nolan (Minn.), Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.), Cheri BustosCheri BustosMembers jam with Wynonna Judd, Keith Urban at Grammys on the Hill Overnight Regulation: Justices won't halt Obama water rule case | Greens, states sue over delayed energy rules Lawmakers ask Sessions to exempt federal prisons from hiring freeze MORE (Ill.), Josh Gottheimer (N.J.), Tom O’Halleran (Ariz.), Jacky Rosen (Nev.), Carol Shea-Porter (N.H.) and Dave Loebsack (Iowa).

The rest are in districts won by Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonDems crowd primaries to challenge GOP reps Dem: Pruitt violating anti-campaigning law with GOP fundraiser Michael Flynn’s troubles mount MORE but still considered competitive next year: Reps. Ami BeraAmi BeraIndependent investigation into Russian interference needed House Democrats identify vulnerable incumbents for 2018 cycle Dems bringing young undocumented immigrants to Trump's speech MORE (Calif.), Salud Carbajal (Calif.), Charlie Crist (Fla.), Elizabeth Esty (Conn.), Ruben Kihuen (Nev.), Ann McLane Kuster (N.H.), Stephanie Murphy (Fla.), Scott Peters (Calif.), Raul Ruiz (Calif.), Brad Schneider (Ill.) and Tom Suozzi (N.Y.).

“Each of these Democrats knows how to win tough races — proven by their success in a difficult national environment in 2016,” DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) said in a statement. “Incumbent protection is a critical part of the DCCC’s offensive strategy, and will allow us to maximize our gains in 2018.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) released an initial list of 36 Democratic targets last month that includes most of the lawmakers in the DCCC’s Frontline Program.

Democrats have indicated they’re targeting 59 GOP seats, focusing on Republicans representing districts carried by Clinton or narrowly won by Trump. A total of 23 GOP lawmakers represent Clinton districts, nearly the number of seats Democrats need to win the House majority.

The NRCC so far has named 10 members, most of whom represent districts won by Clinton, to its incumbent protection program.

The NRCC sought to warn that the Democratic incumbents prioritized by the DCCC’s Frontline Program might face more than tough general election challenges in competitive districts.

“These Democrats have a difficult balancing act ahead of them. They not only have to worry about competitive challenges from Republican opponents, but also from potential primary opponents backed by the activist left itching to wipe out Democrats who don’t sufficiently adhere to their radical agenda,” said NRCC spokesman Jesse Hunt.

This story was updated at 1:44 p.m.