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Fri Jan 10, 2020, 09:01 PM

How Bustos sees the battle for the House

HOUSE OUTLOOK — Bustos and the DCCC’s new executive director, Lucinda Guinn, sat down with reporters for an on-the-record briefing Thursday afternoon at DCCC headquarters to make the case for why House Democrats are poised to maintain their majority. One big piece of what they hope is a winning formula: fundraising. Bustos announced the DCCC raised $14.4 million in December, bringing its 2019 total to $125 million. (For context, the committee raised $9.5 million in the December of 2017, the last off-year.) Another interesting fundraising nugget: Bustos reported that 75 percent of Frontliners raised $500,000 or more last quarter and said many of them started 2020 with $1 million or more in the bank.

Offensive targets are another key piece of the strategy, DCCC officials said, touting six pickup opportunities in Texas alone. Bustos named three repeat candidates — Gina Ortiz Jones in TX-23, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan in IL-13 and Dan Feehan in MN-01 — as three of the more impressive challengers. (It’s worth noting here that Democrats have less formidable recruits in other key pickup opportunities like NE-02, PA-01 and NY-24.)

Bustos also dished on committee efforts to help members in tough primaries. DCCC officials sat down with Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), who Bustos said is “facing the toughest race she’s faced since she was first elected in 2012,” to offer advice and resumes for potential campaign staff. (Beatty was outraised in Q3 by challenger Morgan Harper.) When pressed, Bustos and Guinn declined to rule out field or ad expenditures for other members in primary battles, like Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) and Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.), but they didn’t sound enthusiastic about the prospect. “Look, we’ve got to hang on to the majority, and we have 42 Frontliners. That is our priority,” Bustos said.

The DCCC feels impeachment has not drastically altered Democratic prospects to keep the House, citing internal data. “Not huge. Not a huge shift in numbers,” Bustos said when asked about the impact of impeachment on the majority. Officials also brushed off concerns that Democrats would struggle to win reelection in Trump-won seats with the president on the ballot. Bustos touted her ability to win in 2016, as Trump carried her northwestern Illinois seat, and said internal committee metrics show Trump isn’t popular in “a lot of” the 30 Democratic-held seats he carried in 2016: “I know he’s underwater, and we have specific polling data.”


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