Two big storylines are emerging on the national landscape, though they send mixed messages for the GOP: First, the NRCC is doing a better job than Dems in putting seats in play. But the seats they are missing are seats the party needs to win to take back the Speaker’s gavel.
The NRCC is bragging about more than 60 candidates they have running for Congress, and in some cases those recruits are top notch. Conversely, the DCCC has lost several recruits lately as challengers apparently decide their party isn’t going to have a stellar cycle next year.
In recent days, Dems running against Reps. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) and Jean Schmidt (R-OH) have dropped out, giving those two incumbents easier looks at re-election. Another candidate dropped out of the race to succeed GOV candidate/Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN), taking more pressure off the GOP there.
As Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman, Politico’s Josh Kraushaar and Swing State Project all note, Dems dropping their challenges to potentially vulnerable GOP incumbents could be a troubling sign: If candidates begin to feel they can’t win in ’10, Dems will only be able to play defense — something DCCC chair Chris Van Hollen has already acknowledged is a great way to repeat the big GOP sweep of ’94.
In truth, few Blue Dogs will have targets on their backs. The NRCC has had success recruiting against Reps. Mike Arcuri (D-NY), Leonard Boswell (D-IA), Bobby Bright (D-AL), Travis Childers (D-MS), Frank Kratovil (D-MD), Walt Minnick (D-ID), Harry Mitchell (D-AZ) and Glenn Nye (D-VA). Rep. John Tanner (D-TN), a longtime Blue Dog leader, announced yesterday he would step down after 11 terms.