Republicans are using the outrage among their base about Democrats’ handling of healthcare reform, energy legislation and the economy to land quality candidates in a number of competitive races.
Many of those GOP candidates are in Washington this week for a three-day campaign school, where they will be taught to fundraise, handle the media and abide by campaign finance laws.
And while most of those candidates will not become members of Congress, the GOP has an early stable of good competitors.
Some of the GOP’s strongest recruits are running in heavily Republican districts lost in the landslides of 2006 and 2008. They include Iraq war veteran Vaughn Ward (R), running against Rep. Walt Minnick (D-Idaho); Winter Park City Commissioner Karen Diebel (R), taking on Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-Fla.); and state Sen. Alan Nunnelee (R), who is challenging Rep. Travis Childers (D-Miss.).
In those districts, some candidates have signaled they will use President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as national bogeymen to demonstrate their policy disagreements, even though many more conservative Democrats may have voted against controversial legislation.
“With or without Childers’s vote, [Democrats are] passing legislation because of the leadership team that he supported,” Nunnelee told The Hill this week. While Childers may not have voted with Democrats every time, Nunnelee stresses Childers’s ties to Pelosi, noting “he has voted for her 100 percent of the time on the critical vote” to make her Speaker.
Republicans in Washington are doing their best to keep Pelosi and Democratic initiatives — most notably the economic stimulus bill — on the front burner in districts around the nation. The party has funded advertisements in several districts over each recess period aimed at keeping pressure even on Democrats who may not always be vulnerable.