Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 8, 2016

Can House Democrats Improve on ’12 Recruiting Flops?

Democrats nominated a sub-par candidate against Valadao in 2012. They won't make the same mistake in 2014 if they want to be in a position to put the House into play. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats nominated a sub-par candidate against Valadao in 2012. They won’t make the same mistake in 2014 if they want to be in a position to put the House into play. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If Democrats are going to have any chance of netting 17 seats during the 2014 midterms — and taking back control of the House — they are going to have to do a much better job in a handful of districts where their recruiting fell far short in 2012. Here are four districts where they have much room for improvement.

  • Pennsylvania’s 7th: This Philadelphia-area district is very competitive. It went very narrowly for Mitt Romney in 2012 and for Barack Obama four years earlier. But Democratic nominee George Badey drew just 41 percent against GOP Rep. Patrick Meehan. Badey raised slightly more than $560,000 to Meehan’s $2.6 million, so Democrats need a much stronger fundraiser to test Meehan’s strength.
  • Pennsylvania’s 8th: Romney and Obama finished in almost a dead heat here last year, and Obama won it comfortably in 2008. But GOP Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick had little trouble with Democratic challenger Kathy Boockvar. He beat her 57 percent to 43 percent. Boockvar’s fundraising wasn’t terrible — she took in $1.45 million — but Fitzpatrick raised $2.67 million in a district covered by the expensive Philadelphia media market.
  • California’s 21st: Obama carried this district by 11 points in November, but Republican David Valadao crushed his Democratic opponent, John Hernandez, by almost 16 points. Hernandez raised $124,000 to Valadao’s $1.3 million. To make matters worse, Hernandez defeated the party-preferred candidate in the open primary. Valadao is a formidable politician. But a strong Democrat should be able to give him a run. Unfortunately for Democrats, former state Sen. Michael Rubio has left politics and isn’t likely to run in 2014.
  • Michigan’s 11th: While Romney won this GOP-leaning district by about 5 points last year, Obama won it narrowly in 2008. Still, Democrats found themselves with an unexpected opportunity in 2012 when Kerry Bentivolio won the GOP nomination. Democratic nominee Syed Taj actually outraised Bentivolio, $705,000 to $588,000, but a formidable Democratic nominee with broad appeal might have swiped this seat in an upset. And if Republicans nominate Bentivolio again next year — certainly not impossible — Democrats might have another shot at stealing a seat they shouldn’t have.
  • Bob Stern

    Odd that an article about Democrats taking back the House makes no mention at all of the Gerrymandering that Republicans have done with House Districts, which makes it virtually mathematically impossible for the Democrats to do so. Even though 1.4 million more Democratic votes were cast in the 2012 House elections than Republican ones, Republicans secured a 33 representative advantage in the House. Until we return to majority rule in the House -and in the Senate through filibuster reform- making real progress is hopeless.

    • mike

      I wonder if you gnashing of teeth over the loss of democracy extended to the 60 years before 2012 when the situation was reversed?

    • Gambler2

      So you think it is mathematically impossible for Democrats to take back the house in 2014? Don’t be too sure. There are a couple of factors that might make it possible. First, demographics are rapidly changing. If Democrats can get most of the newly eligible eighteen and nineteen-year-olds registered and to the polls there is a chance that some “safe” Republican districts may not be so safe. Second, as the GOP moves farther and farther to the right of the average Republican voter, some of them will either stay home or vote Democratic.

    • tiredofit

      Why is that odd? Yes, that’s an issue with taking back the house, but it’s one that doesn’t need repeating in an article about candidate recruitment.

    • stephen beck

      Even odder, the article compares 2008 and 2012 district voting, even though all four districts are geographically different. Moreover, the GOP controlled redistricting in Michigan and especially Pennsylvania and those three districts were drawn to favor Republicans.

  • judgeglenda

    the republicans tried to keep people from voting last election. hope the democrats got it straightened out before next elections plus the redistrant they did

  • judgeglenda

    we sure don’t need another bush

  • aj rabin

    Not only will Republicans take over the senate they will increase their majority in the house. Americans see through the mess the Democrats are wreaking on this country.

    • Karen Grasso

      If they do so, it will only be because of blatant manipulation of voting access. Read the data. Oh, that is right, Republicans don’t read anymore.

    • Gambler2

      Continue in you fact-free bubble.

    • stephen beck

      After a number of thoughtful comments, why did you sully this with knee-jerk rhetoric? (That’s a rhetorical question.)

  • Greg Hauenstein

    Iowa’s 3rd District should be added to the list.

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