House Democrats in tight races play catch-up after expensive midterm campaigns

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The House on Friday passed legislation aimed at curbing President Obama’s use of executive authority to slow deportations of young people who arrived here as children. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

House Democrats in tight races play catch-up after expensive midterm campaigns

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Vulnerable House Democrats who ran tight races in 2022 are reeling from an expensive midterm election cycle that has now left their campaigns playing catch-up as lawmakers mull reelection bids in their competitive districts.

As Republicans seek to hold on to their slim majority in the House, GOP strategists have created a list of vulnerable Democrats who won their midterm elections by less than 5 percentage points in 2022. Of those, at least six Democrats in tossup districts have reported less than $54,000 cash on hand as of Jan. 1 — possibly putting them at a disadvantage as they head into the 2024 cycle.

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“Despite raising wads of campaign cash, House Democrat candidates still needed to dig in the couch cushions to fund their narrow victories last cycle,” Will Reinert, national press secretary of the National Republican Congressional Committee, told the Washington Examiner. “With a target squarely on their back, these … campaign cash balances spell doom for their reelection chances in 2024.”

Among those who are most vulnerable is Rep. Gabe Vasquez (D-NM), who won his seat by only 0.6 percentage points in 2022 and whose race has been deemed a tossup by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. Despite strong fundraising numbers resulting in a total of more than $3.6 million raised, Vasquez is starting off the 2024 campaign cycle with only $22,776 cash on hand.

A pair of North Carolina Democrats have also emerged as vulnerable candidates in the next election cycle: Reps. Don Davis and Wiley Nickel. Both are running in districts that are considered tossups in 2024.

Davis, who won his midterm race by 4.6 points in 2022, has slightly less cash on hand than Vasquez, reporting $17,973 as of Jan. 1. Nickel fared better than his Democratic colleague, reporting $36,999 cash on hand.

Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D-CO) is also among the most vulnerable, reporting only $17,541 cash on hand after winning her seat by less than 2 percentage points in 2022.

Republicans are also targeting Pennsylvania Reps. Matt Cartwright (D) and Susan Wild (D) who are poised to run in tossup races in 2024. However, the pair have large sums in their campaign pockets as of Jan. 1, reporting $52,620 and $53,961 cash on hand, respectively.

GOP strategists are hoping to seize on those numbers, arguing it’s harder for incumbents to fundraise when running in the minority party. However, Democrats have pushed back on that notion, noting it’s not unusual for candidates in competitive races to have lower cash on hand.

Democrats also benefit from strong fundraising numbers during the last election cycle, with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee far outraising the NRCC in the first two months of 2023.

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All 435 seats are up for grabs in 2024 as Republicans seek to hold their slim majority in the lower chamber. Of these, 42 are considered competitive, with most of those currently held by Democrats compared to Republicans — giving the GOP a slight advantage as it prepares for the next election cycle.

However, of the 42 competitive seats, 18 are held by Republicans in districts that voted for President Joe Biden in 2020, compared to just five Democrats who must defend their seats in districts carried by former President Donald Trump. That means there are just enough vulnerable GOP-held seats to keep things competitive heading into the next election cycle.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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