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Republicans devise plan to prop up 10 vulnerable House districts with extra cash

Rick Childress and David Lightman, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Republicans plan to pour extra money and resources into 10 congressional districts where Republican incumbents are vulnerable amid demographic changes that could swing the elections toward Democrats.

The special Republican effort, called the "Patriot Program," asks party donors to direct funds to incumbent campaigns. The congressmen also get additional staff and support for more extensive advertising campaigns from the National Republican Congressional Committee, the GOP's House campaign arm.

Three of the districts -- represented by Republicans Will Hurd of Texas, John Katko of New York and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania -- went to Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee in the 2016 presidential race.

Aside from Hurd, three other Texans -- more than any other state -- are on the list. Reps. Pete Olson, John Carter and Michael McCaul each narrowly escaped tough Democratic challenges in the 2018 elections. Each represents a district on the outskirts of the state's rapidly growing metropolitan areas.

Reps. Don Bacon of Nebraska, Lee Zeldin of New York, Fred Upton of Michigan and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, are also on the GOP list of vulnerable districts.

Josh Blank, the manager of polling at the nonpartisan Texas Politics Project, said Republicans are playing defense in suburban districts that are seeing a big influx of younger, more diverse voters who can't afford to live in increasingly popular and expensive city centers. Five of the nation's 11 fastest-growing cities are in Texas, the U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2016.

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According to early polling in suburban Texas districts released by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, over half of respondents said they'd vote to replace their district's Republican incumbent.

"It's that type of growth that is making Democrats more competitive in the suburbs," Blank said.

Many of these voters are new to Texas. More than 1 million people have immigrated to the state since 2010, many of them are highly educated and settled around the state's metro centers, according to Lloyd Potter, the state demographer, in an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News.

Democrats have campaign operatives on the ground throughout the state and are seeking to target these younger voters in an effort to expand their majority in the House.


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