House Democrats have updated their list of incumbents who will receive the bulk of the party’s support during the 2022 midterms, as redistricting narrows Democrats’ path to keeping the majority.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is dropping five members from Texas and Georgia from its Frontline program for vulnerable incumbents and adding Reps. Dina Titus of Nevada and Kurt Schrader of Oregon after redistricting made their seats more competitive. The changes, combined with retirement announcements, drop the number of races in which the DCCC will be defending at-risk incumbents to 26 from the 32 announced in March.
A net loss of five seats would cost House Democrats their majority next year. DCCC Chair Sean Patrick Maloney said the party was delivering a “highly popular agenda,” has seen “record-breaking fundraising” and has opportunities to “expose Republican extremism” in districts where it will go on offense.
“House Democrats are delivering game-changing wins for the American people — crushing the pandemic to get Americans back on the job and kids back in school, making the largest investment in American infrastructure in 50 years and creating millions of good-paying jobs, and we’re on the brink of delivering universal pre-K, elder care and lower drug prices,” Maloney said.
House Democrats’ strategy of focusing their resources on defending incumbents, rather than seeking to expand their majority, remains unchanged, party strategists said.
“It’s a fun fact that I like to throw out, but we do have more members than they do,” DCCC Executive Director Tim Persico said. “So if we bring back our members, we still get the majority.”
The updated list of Frontliners, provided first to CQ Roll Call, comes amid a series of discouraging headlines for Democrats, who are working against historical trends that have seen the party in control of the White House lose seats in midterm elections.
Democrats have repeatedly they can defy the odds by informing voters about popular programs that have been enacted under their watch in Washington, including a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package and a bipartisan infrastructure law that pours billions of dollars into roads, bridges, water systems, transit and broadband.
But that message has been overshadowed by President Joe Biden’s low approval ratings, the pre-holiday emergence of the omicron variant and the continued economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, even as Democrats come closer to passing their signature social spending, climate and tax overhaul package in the Senate and Biden embarks on a nationwide tour to promote his agenda.
House Democrats have also been rattled by upcoming exits within their ranks, with 19 members — including former Frontliners Peter A. DeFazio of Oregon, Ron Kind of Wisconsin and Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania — either retiring or seeking other offices. Those departures, compared to 11 from Republicans, have been widely interpreted as a sign of internal concern among Democrats, but Persico sees it differently.
“These are folks who have been here for a long time, with pretty distinguished records of service,” he said, contrasting the situation to previous waves of retirements by vulnerable incumbents that foreshadowed losses for the party in control of the House. “By and large, these are people retiring from seats that are not considered competitive.”
The updates to the Frontline program nevertheless reflect a changing reality as the redistricting process has reduced the number of competitive seats.
In Texas, a state where Democrats have hoped population changes would lead to more takeover opportunities, the state’s Republican lawmakers instead adopted a new map that shored up incumbents and reduced the number of competitive seats for both parties to three, according to Inside Elections with Nathan Gonzales.
In Georgia, Reps. Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux are running against each other after state GOP lawmakers consolidated Democratic voters into Bourdeaux’s 7th District, and McBath — whose 6th District was made safely Republican — decided to switch seats. They were both dropped from the Frontline program because the race for the redrawn 7th District is not considered competitive in the general election, Persico said.
The new members of the Frontline program, Titus and Schrader, are in races Inside Elections rates Likely Democratic. Titus is facing a more competitive race than she’s had before because state Democratic mapmakers added blue-leaning parts of her district to the districts of fellow Democrats Susie Lee and Steven Horsford to make them less vulnerable. They were both already in the Frontline program.
Here is the revised roster of the Frontline program released Thursday:
- Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01)
- Josh Harder (CA-10)
- Katie Porter (CA-45)
- Mike Levin (CA-49)
- Jahana Hayes (CT-05)
- Cindy Axne (IA-03)
- Lauren Underwood (IL-14)
- Sharice Davids (KS-03)
- Jared Golden (ME-02)
- Elissa Slotkin (MI-08)
- Haley Stevens (MI-11)
- Angie Craig (MN-02)
- Chris Pappas (NH-01)
- Andy Kim (NJ-03)
- Tom Malinowski (NJ-07)
- Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11)
- Dina Titus (NV-01)
- Susie Lee (NV-03)
- Steven Horsford (NV-04)
- Antonio Delgado (NY-19)
- Kurt Schrader (OR-05)
- Susan Wild (PA-07)
- Matt Cartwright (PA-08)
- Elaine Luria (VA-02)
- Abigail Spanberger (VA-07)
- Kim Schrier (WA-08)