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Exclusive: NRCC Adds 32 Candidates to First Tier of Young Guns Program

Walden is the chairman of the NRCC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Republican Congressional Committee announced on Wednesday that 32 candidates qualified for the first tier of its "Young Guns" program, putting them "on the radar" in its program that provides organizational and fundraising help to its candidates.  

“With working families still struggling in this weak economy and our national security under increasing threats, we must elect more Republicans to Congress who will work to strengthen our nation," NRCC Chairman Greg Walden said in a news release. "I am confident that these candidates will continue to work hard for their communities and build strong campaigns as we head into the election year.”  

A handful of the 32 candidates are in top GOP pickup opportunities in 2016. Republicans hope to win those races to stave off losses in their 30-seat majority, while also protecting a number of vulnerable freshmen swept in during the 2014 GOP wave. The remainder are in districts unlikely to change party hands.  

They include:

  • Former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett and rancher Gary Kiehne in Arizona's open 1st District — a seat that voted for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney by a 3-point margin in 2012. The race is rated a Tossup by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call.
  • Physician Neal Dunn and attorney Mary Thomas in Florida's 2nd District — a seat that voted for Romney by a 6-point margin in 2012, and is poised to become even more Republican-leaning in a pending redistricting case. Rating: Democrat Favored.
  • Martin County School Board Member Rebecca Negron, attorney Rick Kozell, Republican political columnist Noelle Nikpour, veteran Brian Mast and former state Rep. Carl Domino in Florida's 18th District — an open seat that voted for Romney by a 4-point margin in 2012. Rating: Tossup.
  • And Retired Air Force Gen. Don Bacon in Nebraska's 2nd District, which voted for Romney by a 7-point margin in 2012. Rating: Tossup.

The other candidates who qualified for the first tier of the Young Guns program are:

  • Surgeon Eugene Cleek in California's 3rd District. Rating: Safe Democratic.
  • Businessman Justin Fareed and state Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian in California's 24th District. Rating: Safe Democratic.
  • Former aide to president George W. Bush and attorney Denise Gitsham in California's 52nd District. Rating: Safe Democratic.
  • Former Rep. Sandy Adams and former New Smyrna Beach Mayor Adam Barringer in Florida's 6th District. Rating: Safe Republican.
  • DuPage County Board Member Tonia Khouri in Illinois' 11th District. Rating: Safe Democratic.
  • Farmer Kip Tom, former Wisconsin state Sen. Pam Galloway and state Sen. Jim Banks in Indiana's 3rd District. Rating: Safe Republican.
  • State Sen. Erin Houchin and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller in Indiana's 9th District. Rating: Safe Republican.
  • Military consultant Amie Hoeber in Maryland's 6th District. Rating: Safe Democratic.
  • State Sen. Phil Pavlov and businessman Paul Mitchell in Michigan's 10th District. Rating: Safe Republican.
  • Businessman Stewart Mills in Minnesota's 8th District. Rating: Democrat Favored.
  • State Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, businessman Danny Tarkanian and former conservative think tank CEO Andy Matthews in Nevada's 3rd District. Rating: Tossup.
  • Businessman David Gurfein in New York's 3rd District. Rating: Safe Democratic.
  • Heating oil executive Andrew Heaney and former state Assemblyman John Faso in New York's 19th District. Rating: Tossup.

Related: Roll Call Race Ratings Map: Ratings for Every House and Senate Race in 2016 Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.