NRCC Unveils New Young Guns’ Program

Posted July 29, 2009 at 11:56am

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) on Wednesday unveiled a new “Young Guns— program intended to help challenger and open-seat candidates build better campaigns and announced that 13 candidates have been accepted into the program so far.

Sessions also announced the NRCC’s first candidate endorsements of the cycle: Air Force Capt. Adam Kinzinger, who is running against freshman Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-Ill.), and former Florida state Rep. Dennis Ross, who is running to succeed Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.).

In a presentation for reporters Wednesday morning, Sessions described a “new— NRCC that is more Member driven and holds candidates and incumbents responsible for their own campaigns.

“We have gone about putting together a team and an organization that is reasonably much different than this committee has ever looked,— Sessions said. “The committee needed to be retuned, rehoned. We are focused on being Member driven. We are focused on playing offense.—

Sessions said his committee would target 80 Democratic-held seats this cycle, with a goal of winning at least half of them and taking back the majority in the House. The Young Guns program will rank candidates on three levels: “On the Radar,— “Contender— and “Young Guns.—

The 13 candidates accepted into the program so far have achieved individualized benchmarks, including campaign infrastructure, grass-roots support, fundraising, and development of a media plan.

The “On the Radar— candidates include: Montgomery City Councilwoman Martha Roby in Alabama’s 2nd district, state Assemblyman Van Tran in California’s 47th district, state Rep. Cory Gardner in Colorado’s 4th district, Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou in Hawaii’s 1st district, Marine Corps veteran Vaughn Ward in Idaho’s 1st district, state Sen. Andy Harris in Maryland’s 1st district, Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta in New Hampshire’s 1st district, Businessman Jon Barela in New Mexico’s 1st district, former Rep. Steve Pearce in New Mexico’s 2nd district, former Rep. Steve Chabot in Ohio’s 1st district and former state Sen. Steve Stivers in Ohio’s 15th district as well as Kinzinger and Ross.

Sessions indicated that Kinzinger and Ross would be the first of perhaps many candidates that the committee could endorse in their respective primaries — a change of policy from last cycle when the committee was reluctant to wade into GOP contests under then-NRCC Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.).

But Sessions also made it clear that multiple candidates running in the same primary can be a part of the program. In short, Sessions called it a “carrot and stick approach— to improving the campaign of every Republican candidate.

“We’re changing this vision about a responsibility of a candidate. And that’s all Young Guns’ is,— Sessions said. “We’re branding a new group of people who will come up here with a different idea of what being a Member is all about.—