Jan 29, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Democrats bet big on rematches in 2024 House races

DCCC Red to Blue list
Data: Dave's Redistricting Atlas, The New York Times; Table: Axios Visuals

House Democrats on Monday unveiled their initial list of top candidates in Republican-held or open House seats in 2024 — and the majority have previously served in or run for Congress.

Why it matters: Democrats are wagering their fortunes on national trends in a presidential year they hope will push candidates across the finish line in districts where they fell short last cycle.

Driving the news: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee added 17 candidates to their "Red to Blue" program, which provides strategic guidance, training and other resources to non-incumbent Democrats.

  • A dozen of the candidates ran for their respective seats in 2022 or — in the case of former Reps. Mondaire Jones and Tom Suozzi of New York — previously represented their districts in Congress.
  • Some lost their 2022 races by fractions of a percentage point, such as Adam Gray of California and Adam Frisch of Colorado, while others lost by decisive margins, such as Michelle Vallejo's 8.5-point loss in Texas.

What they're saying: "Many of the Democrats who ran [in 2022] — and came incredibly close to winning despite the unfavorable cycle — are back in 2024 to finish the job," a DCCC source told Axios, explaining the thinking behind the Red to Blue list.

  • "These candidates have the experience, knowledge, and campaign infrastructure to do it," the source said.
  • Another Democratic strategist predicted November will be a "bloodbath" for swing-seat Republicans because they are "weighed down by Donald Trump [and] have to run in blue districts against proven Democratic vote getters who are in many cases also out-fundraising them."

The other side: "No one likes week-old crusty lasagna, but in desperate times you re-serve it while trying to convince your kids it's the greatest meal of their life," said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesperson Will Reinert.

  • "The same goes for the DCCC — these candidates were a flop last cycle, and no amount of spin will convince voters they are not too extreme to represent them in Congress."
  • A GOP strategist noted that candidates who have previously run "already had millions of dollars in negative advertising dropped on them in the previous cycle," adding, "Voters' memory is like a rubber band — it always snaps back."

The intrigue: While most of the "Red to Blue" candidates are either uncontested or heavily favored in their Democratic primary, there is one notable exception.

  • Oregon state Rep. Janelle Bynum got picked for the program over Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who defeated former Rep. Kurt Schrader in his Democratic primary last cycle only to lose to now-GOP Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer.
  • "They are alienating the other campaign ... by endorsing," the GOP strategist said. "They burned their bridge with staff and candidates."
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