Prominent Democrats are getting a free ride in 2018 as the GOP fails to recruit top challengers.
At this point, it would probably be news when the Republican Party can find high-profile candidates who are willing to jump into the 2018 cycle.
It’s a campaign year that poll watchers say could form into a Democratic wave. That’s why for now, more and more would-be GOP candidates are declining any invitations to run.
From New York to Ohio, and from Minnesota, and North Dakota, each new day seems to bring confirmation that the GOP, weighted down by a historically unpopular president and facing a huge national head wind, is struggling to even compete this year as recruiting efforts fail again and again.
The latest example came on Tuesday when local Illinois businessman Mark Kleine announced he would not challenge Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos, despite having already raised $373,000, leaving the GOP with a back-up candidate who has raised almost no money for the pending contest.
Nationally, “Republican leaders have failed to secure their top-choice candidate in eight of the 10 Senate races in states that Trump won in 2016, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott has yet to commit to his expected run for Sen. Bill Nelsons seat,” Politico reports.
The White House is reportedly so desperate to get Scott to run for the Senate that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke last week carved out a controversial exemption for the state of Florida, protecting its shores from proposed offshore drilling that the administration is proposing nationwide.
That stubborn inability to recruit candidates means that high-profile Democrats who may be eying a White House run in 2020 are getting a pass.
For years, the strategy has always been that if prominent members of the opposing party are likely considering presidential runs, the president’s party makes sure those politicians have to win bruising re-election runs before they get to throw their hat in the ring.
It’s a way to make sure the would-be White House challengers don’t have an unobstructed path for years as they plot their national run.
That’s just not happening this year.
And that’s “allowing the potential White House hopefuls to envision a 2018 spent honing their image as leaders of the anti-Trump resistance as they stockpile campaign cash rather than having to focus on a serious GOP attempt to beat them, or just sully their image,” Politico reports.
On the Democratic side, it’s a much different story unfolding in 2018, with the party buried in a blizzard of challengers eager to knock off local Republicans.
In California alone, There already are 43 Democrats, many of them with plenty of campaign cash, lined up to challenge Republicans in the top seven districts targeted by their party,” according to a recent San Francisco Chronicle report.
Incredibly, Rep. Steve Knight of Palmdale, already has eight opponents seeking to unseat him in a congressional district that Hillary Clinton won by seven points in 2016.
Overall, Democrats need to flip 24 seats to take control of the House. The Cook Political Report currently rates 63 GOP seats as being competitive in November. By comparison, just 21 Democrats seats are deemed to be competitive, while the rest are safe.
One Republican campaign strategist recently told ABC News, The only question is whether Democrats win narrowly by picking up 25 seats or whether it is a blowout of more than 35 seats.
No wonder the GOP can’t find willing challengers.