Joe Heck is running for Congress in Nevada and says he and his fellow Republicans eyeing the majority in the House are out to make history this year.
“I think they will say this is the class that saved the nation from the brink of socialism,” said Heck, a doctor in a tough race for a congressional district that includes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s hometown.
Other candidates challenging Democratic incumbents reflect similar bold sentiments.
“This could without a question be one of the largest freshman classes we’ve ever had,” said Robert Dold, a congressional candidate from Illinois.
Says David Harmer, running for the House in California, of his potential GOP colleagues, most of whom are challenging Democratic incumbents: “I look at this class and I’m inspired.”
The optimism from these Republicans — all part of the Young Guns program founded by Republican Reps. Eric Cantor of Virginia, Kevin McCarthy of California and Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to recruit congressional candidates — is undoubtedly high, and they say GOP members of Congress have made it clear how serious they are about taking back the House. But will these optimists be able to deliver specific policies if elected?
Mick Mulvaney, running for Congress in South Carolina, says he thinks so, claiming that Tea Party activists have helped keep GOP candidates “on message” this year. He said he often gets the question, “Now, what’re you going to do,” from Tea Partiers after riling them up by listing the policies of the Democrat controlled government.
Other Young Guns — at a gathering Tuesday afternoon — pointed to Republican leader John Boehner’s soon-to-be released document of legislative promises that the GOP pledges to enact if it wins the majority as proof that they will be offering specific policies to contrast with what the Democrats will do.
“People will see the disparity,” Harmer said.
But Democrats say this optimism is misplaced, pointing to how much money these GOP candidates have in comparison to the Democrat incumbents they are challenging. For example, Heck has $362,000 cash on hand compared to Rep. Dina Titus’ $1.2 million and Mulvaney has $473,000 cash on hand compared to Democrat Rep. John Spratt’s $1.2 million.
“Republicans talk a big game about the strength of their candidates,” said Ryan Rudominer, National Press Secretary at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, “but these finance reports show a surge in support for Democrats who are standing up for the middle class.”
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