NRCC taps half-dozen new 'Guns'

August 10, 2010

The National Republican Congressional Committee has chosen six new candidates for the highest tier of its “Young Guns” program, expanding the ranks of top recruits the GOP expects to help flip control of the House this fall.

The “Young Guns” designation makes candidates eligible for new fundraising and strategic support from the NRCC, and the committee’s new additions this week suggest that House Republicans are hoping to make Democrats defend an ever-broadening group of seats this fall.

Several additions to the “Young Guns” program come as little surprise: Kansas state Rep. Kevin Yoder, who won the GOP nomination in retiring Democratic Rep. Dennis Moore’s district last week, and former NFL player Jon Runyan, who’s challenging first-term New Jersey Rep. John Adler, were both the NRCC favorites in their primary contests. The districts they’re running in have long been expected to be competitive.

Similarly, former Michigan Rep. Tim Walberg only emerged last week from a challenging primary fight, winning the right to a rematch with Democratic Rep. Mark Schauer, who ousted Walberg in 2008.

In two other races, however, the NRCC’s going out of its way to highlight candidates in districts that have emerged relatively recently as 2010 targets.

In New York’s 19th Congressional District, the NRCC is promoting ophthalmologist Nan Hayworth in her effort to unseat second-term Democratic Rep. John Hall. The seat leans Democratic; Hall won reelection there with 59 percent of the vote in 2008. But it was represented by Republican Sue Kelly as recently as 2006, and Hayworth’s running a well financed campaign. She had $775,000 in the bank at the end of June, compared with $564,000 for Hall.

Also joining Hayworth on the list of challengers on the move is Texas Republican Quico Canseco, the GOP nominee against Democratic Rep. Ciro Rodriguez. Canseco, an attorney who owns several businesses, lags behind Rodriguez in cash on hand but has proven himself at least financially competitive. Like Hall, Rodriguez won his seat for the first time in 2006.

One of the NRCC’s “Young Guns” selections shows the Republicans playing defense. In Alabama’s 5th Congressional District, Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks is picking up the national party’s support after ousting party-switching Rep. Parker Griffith in a Republican primary earlier this year.

Brooks’s general election opponent, Democratic former Hill staffer Steve Raby, has drawn attention from some members of his party in Washington and recently drew the endorsement of the conservative House Blue Dog Coalition.

Three of the seats featuring new “Young Guns” were on the list of districts the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently targeted with ad reservations for the fall. The DCCC has already blocked off television time in Rodriguez and Schauer’s district, and in the Kansas seat where Dennis Moore’s wife, Stephene, is running to replace him.

Adler’s district was not on the list of seats where the DCCC bought early ad time. The Democratic committee has not placed any ads in Republican-held seats, like the one Brooks is running for in Alabama.

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