The National Republican Congressional Committee elevated 17 GOP candidates to "contenders" in its Young Guns program on Wednesday, identifying them as top candidates to oust vulnerable Democrats in November.
The "contender" designation is the second level in the Young Guns program, which seeks to provide organizational support to Republican House candidates.
"Contender candidates have completed stringent program metrics and are on the path to developing a mature and competitive campaign operation," according to an NRCC news release. "They are in congressional seats that appear favorable to the GOP candidate."
Any Republican House candidate can participate in the program, but only those who meet certain benchmarks are elevated through the ranks. The NRCC doesn't publicly list the criteria for advancement in the program.
The 17 "contenders" come from an initial pool of 36 candidates the NRCC identified in November. The NRCC says the other candidates from the initial pool still have the opportunity to advance through the program, and notes that these 17 contenders are part of the first wave of candidates to advance.
The 17 contenders are: Arkansas 2: Banker French Hill Arizona 2: Retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally California 3: State Assemblyman Dan Logue California 7: Former Rep. Doug Ose, former Capitol Hill aide Igor Birman, businesswoman Elizabeth Emken California 36: State Assemblyman Brian Nestande California 45: State Sen. Mimi Walters California 52: Former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio Illinois 10: Former Rep. Bob Dold Illinois 11: State Rep. Darlene Senger Illinois 12: State Rep. Mike Bost Illinois 17: Former Rep. Bobby Schilling Massachusetts 6: Former state Sen. Richard Tisei (who sat down for an interview in the Roll Call office recently ) Minnesota 8: Businessman Stewart Mills Utah 4: Former Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love West Virginia 3: State Sen. Evan Jenkins