EXCLUSIVE – The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is launching a paid media campaign targeting three House Democrats who could likely face difficult reelections in the 2022 midterms when the GOP aims to win back the majority in the chamber.
And the NRCC, the reelection arm of the House GOP, is also unveiling what it calls an “Exit List” of 27 Democratic representatives it considers “vulnerable” and says are likely to retire next year or run for a different office. The NRCC claims “these 27 Democrats see the writing on the wall and know they will lose the House majority or lose their election.”
The GOP controlled the House majority for eight years before losing control of the chamber in the 2018 midterms. But Republicans defied expectations and took a big bite out of the Democrats’ majority in last November’s elections and only need to flip five seats in 2022 to regain control of the House. In modern times, the party that controls the White House – which is currently the Democrats – traditionally loses roughly 25 House seats in midterm elections.
The new digital ads, which were shared first with Fox News, target Democratic Reps. Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania and Ron Kind of Wisconsin.
The digital ad and an accompanying radio spot in Texas highlight what the NRCC considers Gonzalez’ questionable account with a Chinese bank. “How can we trust Congressman Vicente Gonzalez to stand up to China? Gonzalez stashed up to $250,000 in a Chinese bank,” the narrator in the digital commercial argues.
The three-term Democrat from McAllen, who represents Texas’ 15th Congressional District, narrowly won reelection last year. His Republican challenger from 2020, Monica De La Cruz-Hernandez, already announced she’s challenging him again in 2022.
Another digital spot takes aim at Lamb, who’s considering a run for the state’s open Senate seat held by retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey. The narrator in the ad slams Lamb for saying that “Biden’s job-killing fracking ban will help Pennsylvania.”
President Biden was attacked over his stance on the environmentally controversial process of extracting oil and gas from underground rocks – a major industry in western Pennsylvania – during last year’s presidential campaign, but the then-Democratic nominee ended up narrowly defeating President Trump in the Keystone State.
The NRCC is also going up with billboards tying Lamb to the president over fracking.
Lamb, who served in the U.S. Marines, was first elected to the House in a 2017 special election. He won a full term representing Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District – which covers the northwest suburbs of Pittsburgh – in 2018 and won reelection by a razor-thin margin last November.
Kind is also the target of billboards and a digital ad – over his vote in favor of H.R.1, the House Democrats’ massive election reform and campaign finance bill. The measure, which passed the House in a party-line vote and is now in the Senate, would, among other things, expand public financing of elections. Republicans slam the legislation, saying it would lead to a federal government takeover of elections, and accuse Democrats of trying to change election rules to benefit themselves.
“Why doesn’t career politician Ron Kind want to drain the swamp? He’s part of it,” the announcer in the digital spot charges. “Tell Ron Kind to oppose publicly funded campaigns.”
Kind, like Lamb, is also mulling a 2022 Senate run – for the seat held by GOP Sen. Ron Johnson, who has yet to announce if he’ll run for reelection next year. Kind, who’s represented Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District, which covers much of the western and central parts of the state, for nearly a quarter-century, also narrowly won reelection in November.
The NRCC tells Fox News it’s spending five figures on the ads and the billboards, which go up Thursday.
The committee’s list of 27 House Democrats includes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – who turns 81 on Friday and who’s served in Congress since 1987 – and progressive firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who could possibly primary challenge Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer when he’s up for reelection next year.
“House Democrats are running for the exits because they know they’re in for a bruising election cycle which will cost them their jobs and their House majority,” NRCC chair Tom Emmer argued. “They’d rather move on than have to spend another election defending their socialist agenda that will strip Americans of their private health insurance, defund the police, open our borders and raise taxes.”
The NRCC last month put out a list of 47 House Democrats that it considered “vulnerable” in next year’s midterm elections. It spotlights that two Democrats in their initial target list – Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona and Filemon Vela of Texas – recently announced they would retire after next year rather than seek reelection.