GOP to try to win House by slamming Democrats as socialists, job killers

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House Republicans have laid out their path to winning back the chamber they came close to flipping in 2020. They plan to rely on a similar playbook: slamming the Democrats as socialists who will implement “job killing policies,” while at the same time downplaying any divisions within the GOP.

Since President Biden has taken office, the National Republican Congressional Committee has honed in on the impacts of closing the Keystone XL pipeline and delays in reopening schools.

“It’s going to come down to two different agendas: one is about freedom— one is about having the right to self-determine your economic freedom, your individual liberties. The other one is about big government,” National Republican Congressional Committee chair Tom Emmer said in a call with reporters on Wednesday. 

“Every voter is going to have a clear understanding of the Democrats’ socialist agenda and the damaging impact it’s going to have on their daily lives.”

The party is targeting 47 Democrats and needs a net gain of five seats to flip the chamber. The committee has split its targets into three categories: battleground districts where Mr. Biden lost or won by less than 5%; districts where House Democrats trailed his margins or where they won by less than 10%; and districts in states expected to add or lose congressional districts.

Emmer said the committee is looking for a “fair and transparent” redistricting process but hopes to “maximize” the party’s advantage with state legislatures. He noted Republican legislatures are in charge of drawing the maps in states expected to add seats, like Florida, North Carolina and Texas.

The campaign committee saw success in the 2020 elections, shrinking the Democratic advantage in the House by flipping 15 seats into Republican hands, even though Democrats were able to take the White House and the Senate. Recent history also shows a president’s party often loses House seats in the first midterm, with the party controlling the White House losing seats each time, except in 2002.

But the January 6 Capitol rioting, President Trump’s subsequent second impeachment, which has caused a backlash for incumbent Republicans and the removal of controversial freshman Marjorie Taylor Greene from congressional committees have only exacerbated the rifts within the party.

“The divisions have gone too far apart. What we’ve turned into is — is this a party that swears allegiance to the Constitution or to a man?” Adam Kinzinger of Illinois said in an interview with The Washington Post on Wednesday.

Emmer said while the party has “some stuff that has to work its way through the system,” he’s heard from Republicans opposed to Biden administration policies on energy and COVID-19.

Sarah Chamberlain, president of the Republican Main Street Partnership group, said she’s also heard from the group’s centrists that they’re ready to move past the infighting.

“Liz Cheney not losing her position really showed, ‘Okay we’re going to move on,'” she said.

The group hopes to raise $25 million for 2022 and has sent mailers supporting Kinzinger and nine other Republicans who voted for impeachment and who’ve received a chilly reception at home, censured by state parties or facing new primary challenges. 

The NRCC said its policy is to not to weigh in on primaries.

“The people will decide who they want to be their representative,” Emmer said of House Republicans that voted for impeachment. “…They know who they’re representing, and they know the voice they’re speaking with.”

The political impact of January’s insurrection has been two-fold for House Republicans. Many corporate PACs have cut off donations to the House Republicans who objected to certifying the Electoral College results. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched a $500,000 ad campaign tying Republicans to the attacks and QAnon, a network of conspiracy theories that has found a home in the party during Mr. Trump’s tenure.

“Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick should’ve stood with us. But he was a coward, he stood with Trump and the lies… He stood with Q, not you,” one ad says, referencing Fitzpatrick’s vote against impeaching former President Trump. Some Republicans, including Fitzpatrick and Don Bacon have already condemned QAnon in a vote last October.

Emmer says he’s not worried. He believes QAnon isn’t relevant to most voters, and he’s also sure PACs will soon come to realize the Republican agenda “makes most sense for preserving their jobs and advancing their interests.”

House Republican candidates got a boost from the 75 million Republican voters who turned out to vote for Mr. Trump in the 2020 elections, and many are betting that despite the dark final days of his presidency, he could be of service in their quest to take the House. In late January, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy visited the former president in Florida, and both released statements saying the former president would be involved for 2022.

Emmer said while the party should continue to embrace the Trump administration’s economic policies, “as far as what Trump does going forward, I’ll leave that to him.”

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