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Democrats Might ‘Roll The Dice’ Hoping Trump Or Cruz Is On Ballot

Headlines Politics Tribune News Service

Democrats Might ‘Roll The Dice’ Hoping Trump Or Cruz Is On Ballot


By Simone Pathe, CQ-Roll Call (TNS)

WASHINGTON—Democrats are optimistic that a Donald Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz nomination will expand the map in their favor. But because of how long the GOP nominating contest could take, and how early some congressional filing deadlines are, Democrats may need to take a leap of faith on candidates before they know whether the GOP nominee will put certain states in play.

“I’m telling potential candidates, ‘There’s a chance that our party is going to win the lottery. … It might be worth rolling the dice because it turns out the Democratic nominee in some of these states that are not competitive right now may be worth a lot,’” one Democratic consultant said.

It’s no secret that Republicans are worried Cruz or Trump at the top of the ticket could cost them down-ballot races. But with Cruz and Trump surging in the polls, what was once a just-in-case scenario is now less hypothetical.

“It seems likelier than not that some Republican member of Congress — especially since we’ve seen the rise of straight ticket party voting — who currently aren’t on people’s endangered lists become endangered real fast,” said one Democratic consultant.

“It would be a mistake to not field strong candidates in districts that would otherwise be out of reach,” said Democratic consultant Achim Bergmann, a veteran of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“When I was at the committee in 2006, people were not expecting it to be such a strong year for Democrats,” he said. Only later in the cycle, after Hurricane Katrina, for example, “then the wind started to blow at our backs. We were past filing deadlines and we wanted to expand the map. We did, but there were candidates that were not strong enough,” said Bergmann, noting the party could have picked up even more seats had they had stronger candidates in place.

So far this cycle, Democrats point to at least two states whose filing deadlines have passed where the party missed opportunities to expand the map: Illinois and Ohio. As Nathan Gonzales pointed out last year, the fact that Democrats didn’t field stronger candidates in Illinois’ 12th and 13th Districts means the party will have to make up for it elsewhere, likely in less friendly territory.

No one faults the DCCC for lack of trying. The committee has to maximize its resources where it has the best opportunities, and convincing a Democrat in a red district to run for Congress isn’t an easy sell. “They’re human beings that need to be convinced there’s an opportunity. It’s a lot of work to run for Congress,” Bergmann said.

Playing in more districts has been the DCCC’s presidential-year strategy all along, well before Cruz and Trump burst onto the scene. In January 2015, the committee publicly committed to expanding the battlefield to nearly 70 districts. The party needs to win 30 seats to control the House. Trump and Cruz haven’t changed the committee’s recruitment strategy, a DCCC aide said, but they could help expand the map further, even if neither becomes the nominee.

The DCCC expects GOP-leaning districts in states with diverse populations such as Virginia, Nevada, Colorado, Florida and New York could become more competitive.

In Florida’s 7th District, for example, Democratic businessman Bill Phillips is challenging 12-term Rep. John Mica. “That seat’s going to look a lot more interesting with the wrong Republican nominee,” one Democratic consultant said.

Consultants outside the DCCC went further, identifying several red seats the party could flip blue if Trump or Cruz became the nominee and the party had a good candidate in place.

But in several of those places, time is running out.

National Democrats were hopeful about a recruit in Kentucky’s 6th District, but sports radio host Matt Jones ultimately passed on the race. Although the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rates the district Safe Republican, Democrats point to the 2015 gubernatorial race, when Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway carried the district, to argue the party can put it in play — with the right candidate. Recruitment is ongoing in the district, but the filing deadline is Jan. 26.

©2016 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate businessman Donald Trump (L) and Senator Ted Cruz speak simultaneously at the Fox Business Network Republican presidential candidates debate in North Charleston, South Carolina, January 14, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill



  1. FireBaron January 22, 2016

    With the elections not until November, how can some states claim to have filing deadlines for the elections when January isn’t even over?

    1. JPHALL January 22, 2016

      That is how the politicians and power brokers control things.

    2. bobnstuff January 23, 2016

      You must win the primary to be on Novembers ballet. In a number of places it’s the primary that counts and that’s were the real election happens.

      1. Eleanore Whitaker January 23, 2016

        Iowa and New Hampshire are two states…not the entire 50….YOu already know who is going to pass muster with the GOP…Big Oil Cruz. Which means Trump will vacate the GOP and run as an independent.

        As to the Dems,New Hampshire will go with its homey, Sanders, while the Corn POnes in Iowa will also vote for him to insure Cruz beats Hillary. Gee big surprise in the Corn Belt where men are still the only voices heard.

        1. bobnstuff January 23, 2016

          If the republicans hold congress who ever is president makes little difference. In my district it’s the primary that elects the office, It makes the primary the real election.

          1. Eleanore Whitaker January 23, 2016

            It’s a little different hee in NJ. There is a GOP party and Dem party committee at the state level which breaks down among all of the NJ counties. Each county has a party county committee person. These committee persons head the local party committees and they are the ones who decide who gets put out there in elections. Then, the state party committe chairpersons choose from among the counties the candidates, usually about six who will run in the state primary. That’s how Gov. Chris Christie managed to become the GOP Party’s National Chairman. His ties are very influential North Jersey Party Bosses who dictate which NJ candidates end up in the finals of the Dem/GOP campaign.

            Voters get to choose only those in their party in state primaries that have been vetted by each party’s bosses.

          2. bobnstuff January 23, 2016

            In Pa if you get the signatures your are on the ballet. I have been on the local committee and watched the ins and outs. If the party supports you they will get the signatures for you but if they don’t you can still do it by yourself.

  2. rednekokie January 23, 2016

    Democrats are basically lazy, spending all their effort on presidential races.
    The Republicans have, for years, plowed the home turf, lining up representatives and senators in the state houses, as well as the congress.
    This has paid off, very well, and most Democrats simply are unable to understand this tactic.
    Until the Democratic party returns to its grass roots, the people and the people’s representatives, they will continue to lose power. The office of the President is not an indication of power.
    This is unfortunate, but then, most of the American electorate is stupid when it comes to all this, content to being sheep following the goats.

  3. Eleanore Whitaker January 23, 2016

    Republicans and I was one for more than 3 decades always go for the gold, often dismissing the most obvious pitfalls of the candidates they choose. This is due to the GOP idea that their template for candidates must always remain intact and always, always fit their future plans to continue the most relic industries in the U.S. that brings them the most profits at the expense of individual taxpayers.

    Their basic belief is now and always has been that taxes should ONLY be dedicated to Big Business. We now see more clearly how their Pay to Play is so ingrained into every election campaign.

    When you ask why they want Cruz whose citizenship status is not exactly set in stone, you see the reason why the GOP wants him. He fits their emplate…white, middle aged, ideologically permeable, fully controllable and has those all important ties to Big Oi. What could be more important to the Republican Big Oil states right now than for Cruz to be President and reverse the tide of the hit Big Oil is taking?

    If the Back Room of the GOP is any clue, Trump is an aberration they never wanted or expected. It was a recipe for disaster when Trump, Big Business billionaire who lived off tax subsidies for his corporations for decades, chose to run. The GOP’s worst nightmare next to their nemesis Hillary over whom they obsess.

    Trump will eventually do what he always does when he knows he doesn’t have the support of states where his tarnished reputation is most important…NY and NJ. He can make all the promises in the world to the hicks, rednecks, mutton chops and corn pones, but his inconsistency to see issues resolved, is the hallmark of his demented ego.


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