The National Republican Congressional Committee just announced the third set of GOP challengers to achieve “young guns” status, “the top tier of the Committee’s four-level ‘Young Guns’ recruitment program.” Two of the seven candidates to make the cut are Ben Lange, who is running against three-term Democrat Bruce Braley in Iowa’s first Congressional district, and John Archer, who is running against three-term Democrat Dave Loebsack in Iowa’s second Congressional district. The NRCC elevated Lange and Archer to “contender” status in May, along with Archer’s primary opponent Dan Dolan.
Excerpt from an NRCC press release of July 12:
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) announced today that seven Republican candidates have reached ‘Young Gun’ status, the top tier of the Committee’s four-level ‘Young Guns’ recruitment program. These candidates have reached the fourth and final step by establishing a clear path to victory through their ability to build a formidable campaign structure and achieve important goals and benchmarks.
Originally founded in the 2007-2008 election cycle by Reps. Eric Cantor (R-VA), Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Paul Ryan (R-WI), the Young Guns program has become an official NRCC effort with the help of the Young Gun founders and is dedicated to electing open-seat and challenger candidates nationwide.
“These candidates have met a series of rigorous goals that will put them in position to win on Election Day,” said NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX). “The momentum behind these campaigns is proof-positive that Americans are fed up with President Obama’s policies that spend too much, tax too much and borrow too much at the expense of hard-working families. These seven candidates are leading the pack as Republicans continue to send a loud and clear message that we will hold Democrats accountable for their job-destroying agenda.”
The NRCC now has 28 candidates in the “young guns” category. Both Lange and Archer trail the incumbents in fundraising and cash on hand, but the NRCC’s tip of the hat should help them raise money from Republican donors around the country.
Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum is touring Iowa this week and has made campaign stops with Archer and Lange. To my knowledge, Archer did not endorse a presidential candidate before the Iowa caucuses, although Santorum was a featured speaker at an event in Archer’s home last December. Lange endorsed Santorum for president last summer. Santorum’s caucus campaign manager in Iowa, Cody Brown, ran Lange’s 2010 Congressional race against Braley.
Santorum and Lange appeared together in Marshalltown yesterday.
“We certainly welcome (the endorsement),” Lange, an attorney from Independence, said. “In his campaign he showed going out city to city can work.”
Santorum referred to Braley several times as “Nancy Pelosi’s fair-haired boy,” and he said the congressman from Waterloo represents what is wrong in Washington, D.C. He said not re-electing Braley would be a gift to the country from Iowans in the first congressional district. Throw in the fact that Iowa is a swing state in the presidential election, and Santorum recognizes the importance of this state this fall. […]
Lange spoke to the crowd of about 75 and focused his concern on the $16 trillion national debt, and he said Braley takes some blame for out-of-control spending.
“That’s what these suits in Washington, D.C. have done to the next generation,” Lange said of the debt.
Lange signaled months ago that the federal debt would be a major theme of his campaign. Braley has been talking like a deficit hawk for a long time and recently endorsed one version of a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Santorum warned the Marshalltown audience that Braley will likely run for statewide office someday if he wins re-election this year, so “You have an opportunity to do a great service to the state by defeating Bruce Braley.” Many Iowa politics-watchers expect Braley to run for governor in 2014, or for the U.S. Senate if Tom Harkin retires.
Marshall County is one of six out of 20 counties that Lange lost to Rod Blum in his unexpectedly close Republican primary victory. Archer lost only two of the 24 counties in IA-02 when defeating Dan Dolan by a more convincing margin. Full GOP primary results are here (pdf).
Any comments about the races in IA-01 or IA-02 are welcome in this thread. Democrats have a voter registration advantage in both districts, but Republicans have cut into that lead since last year.
I have not seen any public polling on either of these races, but Archer’s campaign announced yesterday that an internal poll puts him within striking distance of Loebsack.
Polling Shows Loebsack is an Endangered Incumbent
Iowans Are Frustrated with Loebsack Say It’s Time to Give a ‘New Person’ a Chance
July 11th, 2012 – DAVENPORT, IA – Today the Archer for Congress campaign released internal polling numbers that demonstrate that Iowa’s “least effective member” Congressman Dave Loebsack’s re-election is in peril.
Despite the fact that Congressman Loebsack has represented a majority of the new 2nd District his measures of incumbency are low. In addition, his position on the ballot is below 50% and more than a third of Iowa voters are unsure about whether they approve of Loebsack’s performance in office. Only a third (33%) would re-elect him today, while (38%) of voters indicate they think it’s time to give a ‘new person’ a chance. At 48%, Loebsack is merely 5 points ahead of Archer on the ballot (the margin of error for the survey).
“Loebsack’s weak re-elect numbers indicate he should be considered a vulnerable Democrat incumbent this cycle. Iowans are clearly frustrated at the direction of our country and Dave Loebsack is clearly not immune from the backlash. As the race stands today, Dave Loebsack is an endangered incumbent,” said Brian Tringali, partner at the Tarrance Group.
John Archer added, “These poll numbers back up what we’re hearing from voters as I travel the district. People are desperate for change. A majority of voters disagree with Loebsack’s support for ObamaCare; they disagree with his continued support of deficit spending and are tired of failed economic policies that have done little to put people back to work.”
Of note the poll was conducted prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling on ObamaCare.
About the Poll: The Tarrance Group was commissioned by the Archer for Congress campaign and the National Republican Congressional Committee to conduct a telephone survey of N=400 registered “likely” voters in the newly formed 2nd District. A random sample of this type is likely to yield a margin of error of +4.9% in 95 out of 100 cases. Responses to the survey were gathered June 25-27, 2012.
LATE UPDATE: Excerpt from an Archer campaign fundraising e-mail on July 17:
The good news continues to come in to our campaign. Last week we told you about a new poll that showed Loebsack’s reelection numbers were upside down. Then the National Republican Conressional Committee invited me to be a member of the “Young Guns,” which confirms what we have known for a while – we are running a strong campaign that will be in a great position come November. Our race has also been recognized by the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report, which has moved our race into the “seats in play” list. We are also proud to announce that the United States Chamber of Commerce has given us their endorsement.