The Line: GOP Hopes to 'ROMP' Its Way Back to House Majority
Earlier this week The Fix got his hands on the yet-to-be-released ROMP (Regain Our Majority Program) list -- a sort of insider's tip sheet to GOP House incumbents who are thought by party strategists to be at risk of losing in next year's election.
A spot on the ROMP list ensures a Republican lawmaker a slew of donations from his or her colleagues. Here's the list:
* Deborah Pryce (Ohio, 15th District)
* Steve Chabot (Ohio, 1st),
* Robin Hayes (N.C., 8th)
* Heather Wilson (N.M., 1st),
* Joe Knollenberg (Mich., 9th),
* Jim Gerlach (Pa., 6th),
* Dave Reichert (Wash., 8th),
* Jon Porter (Nev., 3rd),
* Marilyn Musgrave (Colo., 4th)
* Peter Roskam (Ill., 6th).
This is the second iteration of the ROMP list. The first included:
* Vern Buchanan (Fla., 13th District)
* Dean Heller (Nev., 2nd)
* Charlie Dent (Pa., 15th)
* Randy Kuhl (N.Y., 29th)
* Thelma Drake (Va., 2nd)
* Chris Shays (Conn., 4th)
* Mike Ferguson (N.J., 7th)
* Mark Kirk (Ill., 10th),
* Marilyn Musgrave (Colo., 4th)
* Jim Walsh (N.Y., 25th).
How many of these Republicans make this week's Line? Scroll down to see. And remember, these House races are still listed alphabetically; it's still too early to rank the races from 1 to 10.
To the Line!
Arizona's 1st District (Currently Republican): We're doubtful that Rep. Rick Renzi (R) winds up as his party's candidate next fall given the ethical/legal microscope he's currently under. But as long as he's in the race, it will be tough to keep this race off The Line. The vast 1st District was created in 2002 to be competitive between the two parties, although President Bush won it by 5 points in 2000 and by 8 points in 2004. State Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D) is already in the race and raising money but will likely have a primary. Republicans' best chance to hold the seat is to convince Renzi not to run again.
California's 4th District (R): Like Renzi, the best thing Rep. John Doolittle can do for his party's chances of holding this reliably Republican seat is to take himself out of the running. He hasn't done so yet. Charlie Brown, who lost to Doolittle 49 percent to 46 percent in 2006, is back for another race and will likely enjoy more establishment support than he did last time around. If Republicans can get Doolittle off the ballot, this should be an easy win. Bush won the district with 61 percent of the vote in 2004, 17 points better than he did statewide.
California's 11th District (Currently Democratic): Republicans continue to feel better and better about their chances against freshman Rep. Jerry McNerney (D). Why? Former state Assemblyman Dean Andal (R) will reportedly show a big haul in his June 30 FEC report, and Assemblyman Guy Houston (R), who has been contemplating a primary challenge to Andal, appears to be in some legal trouble. McNerney won the seat thanks to a strong Democratic year and massive spending on the part of environmental groups to unseat the previous incumbent, Rep. Richard Pombo. Can the Democrat win without a strong wind at his back?
Florida's 16th District (D): Republicans weren't able to convince their first choice -- Joe Negron -- to jump into the race against freshman Rep. Tim Mahoney (D). The party now seems headed for a three-way primary between attorney Tom Rooney, state Rep. Gayle Harrell and Palm Beach Gardens City Councilman Hal Valeche. But Republicans got a bit of good news recently when the state legislature moved the state's congressional primary from September 5 to August 26. Those extra days should help Republicans rally around their candidate. Mahoney, like McNerney, must prove he can win a race that is not a referendum on his opponent.
Georgia's 8th District (D): Until the last week of the 2006 campaign, we were told Rep. Jim Marshall (D) was in very strong shape to win reelection over former Rep. Mac Collins (R). Georgia bucked the national Democratic trend, however, and Marshall eked out a very narrow victory. That squeaker put him squarely on Republicans' 2008 target list and may well have convinced retired Major Gen. Richard Goddard (R), who had been courted to run before, to get into the race. While Goddard is highly touted by national Republicans, Collins has said he is interested in running again and will make a decision later this year. A primary would complicate a real Republican pick-up opportunity.
llinois's 8th District (D): This district is covered by the costly Chicago media market, meaning that any candidate readying a run against Rep. Melissa Bean (D) better be ready and able to raise and spend millions. Steve Greenberg (R), a wealthy businessman, fits the bill. After turning down pleas to take on an almost assuredly quixotic challenge to Sen. Dick Durbin (D) in 2008, Greenberg announced he would challenge Bean. While Bean has proven her campaign skills since unseating Phil Crane (R) in 2004, she holds in a very tough district for Democrats. President Bush carried the 8th with 56 percent of the vote in 2004, and Greenberg should benefit from presidential year turnout. This is one to watch.
Kansas 2nd District (D): The Republican primary between former Rep. Jim Ryun and state Treasurer Lynn Jenkins could be one of the best intraparty contests this cycle. The Club For Growth is already on the air bashing Jenkins for her alleged support for tax increases. It's hard to get a read on where national Republicans come down on this race. Ryun's inattentiveness cost him this district in 2006, but he appears to have learned his lesson. Jenkins is by far the more moderate of the two but could emerge from the primary badly damaged if these attacks continue. Rep. Nancy Boyda (D) is clearly vulnerable -- this district gave President Bush 59 percent of its vote in 2004 -- but we don't underestimate Kansas Republicans' ability to fumble the ball.
Ohio's 16th District (R): We're not sure what Rep. Ralph Regula's reelection plans are, but whether he stays or retires this seat should be competitive. Regula, who is 82 years old, raised just $1,500 in the first three months of the year and ended March with $91,000 in the bank. Democrats are thrilled about state Sen. John Boccieri's (D) candidacy, believing he can beat Regula or win an open-seat contest. The district tilts slightly to Republicans -- Bush won it with 54 percent of the vote in 2004. But Ohio recoiled strongly against Republican control in 2006 and the environment shows no signs of improvement just yet.
Pennsylvania's 10th District (D): U.S. Attorney Tom Marino's decision not to challenge freshman Rep. Chris Carney (D) robbed Republicans of their strongest potential candidate. But wealthy businessman Dan Meuser's (R) almost-certain candidacy means Republicans still plan to seriously contest this seat. By the numbers, it's a district Republicans should have never lost -- Bush won it with 60 percent of the vote in 2004. But former Rep. Don Sherwood's (R) personal problems dominated the '06 race, helping to hand Carney a victory. The freshman Democrat will face a much tougher race this time around.
Texas's 22nd District (D): We thought long and hard about leaving Rep. Nick Lampson (D) off The Line. After all, his two top Republican challengers -- Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace and Harris County Tax Assessor Paul Bettencourt -- have opted out of the race, and Lampson is a proven vote-getter who knows what he needs to do to win reelection. But we just couldn't get over the district's demographics and the fact that Bush won 64 percent of the vote here in 2004. Plenty of Republicans are mentioned as challengers, including state Rep. Robert Talton and Pete Olson, former chief of staff to Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).
June 29, 2007; 7:30 AM ET
Categories: House , The Line
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