Republicans Are Fleeing And So Are Their Hopes For Keeping The House

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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Republicans’ hopes for maintaining control of the House are dwindling and that is likely an understatement.

Forty-six House Republicans are either resigning, retiring or seeking other office in 2018. Roughly 22 House members retire each election cycle, so to say the party is going through a seismic shift is not a misnomer.

In fact, its been nearly 25 years — since 1994 — that a majority party incurred as many losses as Republicans have this year. Democrats controlled the House leading up the to the 1994 midterms. The party had 28 members announce retirement and Republicans subsequently took them to the cleaners, picking up 54 seats and outright claiming the majority in what is now known as the “Republican Revolution.”

Following what was a quiet stream of weeks after the months-long chain of Republicans fleeing the House, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan rattled Capitol Hill early last week, declaring he will hang up his hat after serving almost 20 years in the lower chamber. Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania dealt another blow to the party Tuesday morning, becoming the 46th Republican on a growing list of casualties.

“The party in power faces historic headwinds in midterm election years, which is why Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has raised an unprecedented amount of resources allowing us to make continued investment in our permanent data-driven ground game,” Steve Guest, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We remain 100 percent committed to defending our majorities in both the House and the Senate.”

If the slew of defections weren’t enough, Republicans are trailing their Democratic challengers in 43 races, Politico reported. Some 14 GOP incumbents have less cash on hand than their Democratic counterparts, according to Open Secrets.

Republicans might not be in as tough a spot overall in terms of fundraising, despite Democrats recent onslaught of donations. The Republican National Committee (RNC) has raised $157,675,631.54 in the 2018 election cycle, compared to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s $125,367,636.26, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Ryan has transferred a record-setting amount of money for a speaker — $40 million — to Republicans’ campaign committee this cycle and has held over 70 fundraising events, including three this week.

Still, Republicans have reason to remain concerned. GOP members have yet to deliver on a handful of much-lauded campaign promises they made to constituents in 2016. That matters for a number of reasons: The first, Republican and conservative voters don’t have a reason to trust members in November when they make promises. Second, GOP voters could be discouraged (even more so than a typical off-year election) to get out and vote.

Republicans delivered on a watered-down amalgamation of the speaker’s and Trump’s respective tax proposals in December. However, they failed to repeal and replace Obamacare, secure adequate funding for the construction of a wall along the southern U.S.-Mexico border, defund sanctuary cities (as TheDCNF exclusively reported in March) and defund abortion giant Planned Parenthood.

Republican leadership is adamant that running in 2018 on a campaign platform of tax cuts is the surefire strategy for winning this election cycle, but a recent meeting of Republicans on Capitol Hill showed the message isn’t setting in with voters as hoped. National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Shivers of Ohio showed members recent polling data that constituents have not heard from their representatives about the new tax bill and Shivers urged them to get out and sell the new tax law to voters.

Voters head to the ballot box in November to choose House members and a third of the Senate. Conventional wisdom pegs the Senate as mostly safe for Republicans, but nothing is a guarantee.

House Republicans face eight months of palace intrigue as to who will take over as the top ranking member in the chamber. Thus far, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip Steve Scalise and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a co-founder of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, are thought to be the major players in contention to take over for Ryan. Of course, if Democrats take control of the House this cycle, the next speaker would be a Democrat.

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