It appears that the grandfather of Obamacare is slated to become the Republican nominee for president. There’s not much we can do in the realm of presidential politics except hope that the new page on the Etch A Sketch will be better than the old one. At present, the most consequential thing we can do as conservatives is to follow the congressional elections in every state, and advocate, campaign, and donate to the most conservative candidates in each district. In the plethora of open districts, that means sorting through a bunch of new candidates; in a district with a milquetoast incumbent, that means supporting the best viable challenger.
If the spiritless Republican members in Democrat and swing districts were the sum of our problems, we would be in good shape. The appalling thing is that there are numerous red states and districts that are represented, at best, by members who vote in line with leadership, and at worst, by members who are big-government statists. If we continue to elect big-government statists from red districts, including some of the most conservative ones in the country, then we will be consigned to permanent minority status, even within the Republican conference. Do we really desire for our most promising result in the November elections to be a moderate president with a Congress controlled by the same leadership? If the answer is no, we better get to work on congressional elections. A good place to start is with the mediocre red state incumbents.
It is clear from this week’s defeat of Don Manzullo that we will have an uphill task in replacing entrenched statist Republicans. On Tuesday night, we lost a conservative, even with the benefit of seniority. It will be even harder when we are challenging veterans with newcomers that have little or no name ID. Members of the media are constantly publishing polls showing how congressional approval is in the single digits, yet voters in individual districts keep returning their incumbent to office.
We need to get moving on some of these races. Here is a list of Republicans that clearly underperform based upon the demographics of their district, and have either attracted opponents or could still get a challenger before the state’s filing deadline. In other words, these are the districts where we can actually affect change. Many of these challengers won’t be viable, but that is not an excuse for automatically rubber stamping every incumbent with another term in office without a second look.
Let’s start with the incumbents. We’ll also need to deal with the open seats in the coming days.
PA-18 Tim Murphy
NC-2 Renee Ellmers
NC-3 Walter Jones
WV-2 Shelley Moore Capito
ID-2 Mike Simpson. We have this guy in Idaho?! (54% Heritage Action score; 49% Club for Growth)
Nebraska 1,2,3: The entire delegation; Jeff Fortenberry, Lee Terry, and Adrian Smith underperform the state’s ideological bent. They all have primary challengers.
Texas – If there’s any state where we should elect principled conservative fighters it’s in Texas. Many of the incumbents have underperformed or are being challenged by potentially superior candidates. 15 of the 23 incumbent Republicans have attracted challengers. There’s not much time left. Some good places to start?
TX-6: Joe Barton
TX-7: John Culberson
TX-10: Michael McCaul
TX-21: Lamar Smith
TX-22: Pete Olson
TX-31: John Carter
Remember that not all these guys are statists. But many of them represent some of the most conservative districts in the country, yet they voted for the debt ceiling deal and most or all of the spending bills. They also have challengers. It would not be the worst thing in the world to reelect some of them, but why not take a close look at the challengers instead of blissfully voting for the incumbent like a bunch of drones?
NJ-5: Leonard Lance – Admittedly, this is a swing district, but pending final approval of redistricting, we might have a better option.
North Dakota – Rick Berg is vacating the House seat to run for Senate, so he won’t officially be an incumbent in that capacity. We must not let him win the nomination.
Oklahoma- The entire delegation ranges from statist to mediocre. If we are going to continue electing those who support anti-free-market policies in states like OK, then we should call it quits. The filing deadline already passed, and the only one with a challenger is John Sullivan (OK-1).
Tennessee – Much of the delegation is really underperforming. The filing deadline is April 5.
Mich-6: Fred Upton – This is a swing district, but Fred Upton as chairman of a Super A committee?
Missouri – The filing deadline ends Tuesday, March 27.
CD-8 Jo Ann Emerson represents some of the most conservative parts of the state. She has one primary challenger so far.
In CD-6, we can do a lot better than Sam Graves.
MO-3- Blaine Luetkemeyer, who currently represents the now-obsolete 9th district, is running in the new Republican leaning 3rd district. We can do a lot better, yet we only have a few days until the filing deadline.
WIS-6: Tom Petri: It’s a swing district, but we can do better depending on the outcome of redistricting.
Florida – Florida’s redistricting process is not complete and there are a lot of moving parts. The filing deadline is not until June 8.
FL-4: Andrew Crenshaw
FL-7 Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica is running for reelection is this newly-drawn district. At present, the assumption is that Sandy Adams (current CD-24) will run against him, setting up another member-on-member race. Sandy Adams is the preferred choice.
FL-35: David Rivera. Swing district, but Rivera just doesn’t cut it.
AZ-6: Two incumbents, David Schweikert and Ben Quayle were drawn into this new district. Schweikert is head and shoulders above Quayle. Leadership has already donated to Quayle after kicking Schweikert off the whip team.
Alaska-At-Large: Don Young (Heritage action score 38%!)
LA-3: Charles Boustany is losing his 7th district and will run against fellow incumbent Jeff Landry in CD-3. Landry is clearly the better choice. Boehner already donated to Boustany.
LA-5: Rodney Alexander
This is by no means a complete list. Unfortunately, the filing deadline has already passed in many other red states and there are no primary challengers against those mediocre Republicans (think AL, MS, KY, SD, AR). We’ll update this list as the elections progresses. Ultimately, it looks like our biggest conservative pickup opportunities will come from open seats.