GOP looks to November and plays defense

One can learn a lot about the landscape by taking a closer look at the parties' target lists.

Published July 2, 2008 3:01PM (EDT)

The congressional campaign committees for both major parties create target lists of key, competitive races. The idea, of course, is to find the defining contests that the parties see as vital to the strength and size of their caucuses.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has its Red to Blue initiative, while the National Republican Congressional Committee has launched its Regain Our Majority Program, or "ROMP." As of now, there are 236 Democrats and 199 Republicans in the House, and if either side is going to improve their numbers, it's going to start with these targets.

But you can learn a lot about the political landscape by taking a closer look at the parties' lists. The DCCC's Red to Blue, as the name implies, features 38 House campaigns in districts currently held by Republicans. The goal, obviously, is for Dems to build on their House majority.

So, are Republicans thinking along the same lines? Not so much.

A leading GOPer in the House, whip Roy Blunt, sent out a release [yesterday] touting a new fundraising effort on behalf of Republican candidates. The program has this rather optimistic title: "Regain Our Majority Program (ROMP) II"

But in the same release, it also contains a list of all the GOP House candidates that will benefit from this program designed to regain the GOP's majority ...

Get this -- only two of the names on this list are challengers running to unseat House Dems -- [Chris Hackett, Pa. 10] and [Pete Olson, Texas 22]. The rest are incumbents, with the exception of [Steve Stivers, Ohio 15], who's running for an open GOP-held seat.

But to regain their majority the GOP would need to knock off 19 House Dems. So this program to win back the majority is approximately 17 candidates short of what they need to accomplish its stated goal!

By any reasonable measure, that's pretty embarrassing. Dems are on offense, eyeing seats currently held by Republicans, and the GOP is on defense, targeting districts it already has.

Given this, Regain Our Majority Program is almost certainly the wrong name. I suppose We Hope to Avoid Getting Embarrassed Program doesn't have a catchy acronym.

By Steve Benen

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