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The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

A Bad Time to Be a Democratic Challenger

Aaron Blake catches State Sen. Laura Kelly, a top Democratic recruit against Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), pulling out of the race. Kelly joins several other

Paolo Reyna
News
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Dec 31, 2009

Aaron Blake catches State Sen. Laura Kelly, a top Democratic recruit against Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), pulling out of the race.

Kelly joins several other recent drop-outs, including businessman Jack McDonald, a well-funded challenger to Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) who announced last week that he wouldn’t run. The others are Ohio state Rep. Todd Book, who was running against Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio); former Tennessee state commerce and insurance commissioner Paula Flowers, who was running for Rep. Zach Wamp’s (R-Tenn.) seat; and Solana Beach City Councilman Dave Roberts, who was running against Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.).

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee bragged about these recruits when they got in their respective races, so there’s no spinning the bad news. However, while Democrats won the Jenkins seat in a 2006 upset (before losing it last year), none of these seats were good Democratic targets in 2010. The Cook Political Report rated Jenkins’s seat “R+9,” meaning Republicans had an out-of-the-gate 9-point advantage there. McCaul’s Texas seat is R+10. Schmidt’s seat is R+13, as is Wamp’s seat. Only the Bilbray seat, R+3, is the kind of district that flips in non-wave elections, and Democrats still have credible candidates in the field; Roberts dropped out, he claimed, because he successfully (and to his surprise) won custody of several foster children.

Is the lack of fire from red-district Democratic challengers a bad omen for the party in 2010? Absolutely. Does it hurt their chances of holding the House? Not really.

Paolo Reyna | Paolo is a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, majoring in International Studies with a Latin American emphasis. During the fall semester of 2012, he had the opportunity to study abroad in Peru, which piqued his interest in international growth. He learned about the disparities that impact indigenous peoples, got a taste of Peruvian culture, and improved his Spanish skills. Mitchel interned with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, conducting research on food security in Latin America, after being inspired by his foreign experience. He wants to work in international development and for a government department, writing legislation. He loves playing intramural basketball and practicing for the Chicago marathon when he is not thinking about current events in Latin America.

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