Will Republicans Offend Voters Enough to Lose the House in 2018?

A Republican Congressman from Nebraska wants to slash food stamps and refuses to say that Americans are entitled to eat. In other words, it’s ok if they starve. A Republican candidate for Congress in Montana assaults a reporter but still manages to win a special election. Another declares that “nobody dies” for lack of health insurance, and that health care “isn’t a human right.” Still another says “bullcrap!” to constituents who remind him they pay his salary. Another asserts that Republicans in Congress work for Donald Trump, not constituents or taxpayers. And a GOP legislator from North Carolina equates Abraham Lincoln with Adolph Hitler.

A 30-year-old Democrat and political newcomer wins 48 percent of the vote in a solidly Republican congressional district in suburban Atlanta, and is headed for a run-off with a deeply divided GOP in a special election. It’s “the Trump Effect,” according to Fox News.

(Not so fast. In June, 2017, the Democrat, Jon Ossoff, lost the special election for the open seat in a Republican-leaning district in Georgia to Karen Handel, who kept Trump at arms length. (This was to fill the seat of Trump HHS cabinet appointee Tom Price. The seat has been held by the GOP since 1979. There was record turnout, 25%, for a special election, but that’s still low for mid-term and presidential election years.)

Emerging evidence of public resistance to Trump, as well as a negative reaction to the arrogance and ignorance of Republican officeholders may endanger Republican control of Congress and the majority of state legislatures.

Alas, it may not, due to gerrymandering, unless voters sustain their outrage until November, 2018, which is hard to do.

If Donald Trump’s popularity stays in the low forties or plunges further, Democrats should be able to take back the House of Representatives in 2018. Historically, a president’s party loses seats in the first midterm election after a White House victory. Republicans currently control the House by just 24 seats out of 435.

In the US House Elections, 2018, so far, 10 seats are open: 6 Republican seats and 4 Democratic seats. And a number of Republican congressmen in swing districts are already on the defensive. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is targeting these 34 Republican incumbents who may be damaged by Trump.

New Jersey’s Self-Proclaimed Moderate Congressman Takes Heat from All Sides. NPR: “On the spectrum from most conservative to most liberal, Republican Leonard Lance’s New Jersey district rests squarely at the center. It is the political median in the 435-seat House. Voters chose him. They also narrowly went for Hillary Clinton…”

A Very Early Look at the Battle for the House, 2018

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee so far is placing a priority on defeating Republicans in the 23 districts that voted for Hillary Clinton, among them:

  • Carlos Curbelo (Fla.),

  • Bruce Poliquin (Maine),

  • Mike Coffman (Colo.),

  • Will Hurd (Texas) and

  • Rob Blum (Iowa).

    Other Democratic targets include freshman lawmakers like GOP Reps.

  • Brian Mast (Fla.),

  • Jason Lewis (Minn.),

  • Claudia Tenney (NY) and

  • Don Bacon (Neb.).

But there’s little hope in 2018 to oust members of Congress in gerrymandered districts designed to eliminate democratic and Democratic competition. That will probably have to wait until after the 2020 elections when districts are redrawn.

Florida congressman Ted Yoho could be in trouble after saying on TV that House Intel Chair Deven Nunes “works for the President,” not his constituents, the American people, the taxpayers, and is not obliged to conduct an independent investigation into the Trump administration’s Russia ties. He later said he “misspoke,” but this represents a basic misunderstanding of the American political system and separation of powers.

Yoho, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, is facing some tense town hall meetings, especially in Gainesville. He serves in the gerrymandered third district, redrawn for the 2012 elections, which he won with more than 60 percent of the vote.

Oklahoma congressman Markwayne Mullen snapped at constituents who reminded him that they pay his salary, according to The Hill publication. “You say you pay for me to do this? That’s bullcrap,” Mullin said at the town hall in Jay, Okla., according to a video of the incident.

“I pay for myself. I paid enough taxes before I got here and continue to through my company to pay my own salary. This is a service. No one here pays me to go,” he added.

After constituents pushed back, Mullin reiterated that being a lawmaker is not “how I make my living.”

Mullen owns multiple plumbing companies and doesn’t have to settle for just the measly $174,000 a year plus generous benefits that a member of Congress receives.

Due to gerrymandering, Mullen — first elected in 2012 — won re-election with 70 percent of the vote in the last two elections. However, he has canceled several town hall meetings with constituents recently because he says they weren’t sufficiently respectful.

In North Carolina, Rep. Larry Pittman (R-Cabarrus) posted on Facebook that both Abraham Lincoln and Adoph Hitler were tyrants.  Pittman wrote that Lincoln was “personally responsible for the deaths of 800,000 Americans in a war that was unnecessary and unconstitutional.”

He has introduced legislation repealing a ban against secession in the NC Constitution, asserting that NC ought to have the right to secede from the US.

Pittman represents a solidly Republican district and won re-election handily. But his neo-Confederate opinions may be too much for even a solidly Republican district.

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