IA-01, IA-02 on long list of NRCC targets

The National Republican Congressional Committee released a memo today outlining a strategy to “stay on offense” during the 2014 electoral cycle. No Iowa district is among the top seven NRCC targets, but the districts currently represented by Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) are on the long list of 45 seats Republicans see a chance to pick up.

According to NRCC Executive Director Liesl Hickey’s memo, the top seven targets are Democrats who represent districts won by George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney in the last three presidential elections. Here’s the long list:


Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01)

Ron Barber (AZ-02)

Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09)

John Garamendi (CA-03)

Ami Bera (CA-07)

Jim Costa (CA-16)

Lois Capps (CA-24)

Julia Brownley (CA-26)

Raul Ruiz (CA-36)

Scott Peters (CA-52)

Jim Himes (CT-04)

Elizabeth Esty (CT-05)

Alan Grayson (FL-09)

Patrick Murphy (FL-18)

Lois Frankel (FL-22)

Joe Garcia (FL-26)

John Barrow (GA-12)

Brad Schneider (IL-10)

Bill Foster (IL-11)

Bill Enyart (IL-12)

Cheri Bustos (IL-17)

Bruce Braley (IA-01)

Dave Loebsack (IA-02)

John Tierney (MA-06)

Bill Keating (MA-09)

Tim Walz (MN-01)

Collin Peterson (MN-07)

Rick Nolan (MN-08)

Steven Horsford (NV-04)

Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01)

Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02)

Mike McIntyre (NC-07)

Tim Bishop (NY-01)

Steve Israel (NY-03)

Carolyn McCarthy (NY-04)

Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18)

Bill Owens (NY-21)

Dan Maffei (NY-24)

Louise Slaughter (NY-25)

Peter DeFazio (OR-04)

Kurt Schrader (OR-05)

Pete Gallego (TX-23)

Jim Matheson (UT-04)

Suzan DelBene (WA-01)

Nick Rahall (WV-03)

Clearly the NRCC will not spend serious money in all of those districts, but a dozen or two of those Democratic incumbents may have to contend with direct mail or attack ads.

According to Federal Elections Commission data, the NRCC spent just over $416,000 against Braley and just over $768,000 against Loebsack last year. I wasn’t impressed by the NRCC’s advertising against Braley (see also here) or Loebsack (see also here). Apparently Republican polling indicated they were not getting a lot of bang for the buck. The NRCC pulled out of IA-01 in late September and stopped advertising in IA-02 a couple of weeks before the election. The NRCC spent its television money in the Quad Cities market only rather than district-wide in IA-02.

Braley and Loebsack easily won fourth terms in the House. Braley defeated Ben Lange by 56.9 percent to 41.6 percent, while Loebsack defeated John Archer by 55.6 percent to 42.5 percent.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the Iowa Democrats are home-free in 2014, though. Braley and Loebsack won re-election by even larger margins in 2008 than they did last year. Yet in 2010, they barely scraped by, with the help of spending by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The midterm electorate will look very different from the presidential year electorate, and the Iowa Democratic Party won’t have as much to spend on GOTV as President Barack Obama’s campaign spent organizing Iowa in 2012.

The first Congressional district has a partisan voting index of D+5, meaning that in the last two presidential elections, IA-01 voted about five points more Democratic than the national average. That’s about the same PVI as the district where Braley was first elected in 2006. Braley recently regained a spot on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, which will surely feature prominently in his next election campaign. He has also requested a waiver to continue to serve on the House Veterans Affairs Committee; veterans issues were a theme of his 2012 campaign.

Loebsack represents a slightly less Democratic-leaning district now, with a PVI of D+4. The older version of IA-02 had a PVI of D+7 going into the 2010 election. On the plus side, the defense industry is important to the Quad Cities area, and Loebsack has been like a broken record advocating for the Rock Island Arsenal. He serves on the House Armed Services Committee and its subcommittees on Readiness and Military Personnel.

Whereas Loebsack is almost certain to seek re-election in IA-02, Braley may run for a statewide office: either the U.S. Senate if Tom Harkin retires, or against Governor Terry Branstad. An open seat in IA-01 would be a more promising target for the NRCC than another run at Braley in 2014.

Speaking of Harkin, he is not among the six or seven Senate Democrats being targeted by conservative groups for the next cycle. If Harkin decides not to seek a sixth term in the U.S. Senate, Iowa would surely move into the swing state column.

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  • elephant in the room

    immigration reform.

    Braley will be in a particularly tough spot if he chooses to run statewide. If he doesn’t, he has future campaigns to think about.

    All you have to do is take a look at how Iowa Dems are reacting to IA-DOT or SOS Schultz. “Weak sauce” is generous.

    I was not surprised to hear adult education/retraining mentioned frequently yesterday. Both parties are jockeying for position.

    On the fed level, a key question is will the administration handle this like hcr by demanding “tough votes” of membership? Or will a Rubio-backed plan vs the administration narrow the argument and minimize fallout?