By Ken Stone
Rep. Duncan Hunter got unwelcome news Monday from a familiar foe: the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and its hefty wallet.
The Alpine Republican, already facing fraud and corruption charges and a September trial, represents one of 33 GOP House districts the committee aims to flip in 2020.
The “D-triple-C” has spent more than $1 billion since the 2010 cycle to boost party fortunes, including $285 million in the successful 2018 season that led to a Democratic takeover of the House.
Hunter is one of two California Republicans — the other being former House intelligence committee chair Rep. Devin Nunes of Tulare — included in the DCCC’s initial “2020 offensive battlefield.”
DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos, an Illinois congresswoman, said 2018 was “just the tip of the iceberg for Democrats.”
“Today we are announcing our plan to go on offense and grow our New Democratic Majority,” she said in a statement Monday. “By putting our plans in motion earlier in the cycle than ever before, we are demonstrating to Democrats across the country that the political arm of House Democrats is operating in high gear from the start.”
Hunter’s spokesman didn’t appear concerned.
“The Congressman has no comment on this,” aide Michael Harrison told Times of San Diego via email. “While some organizations, and individuals, apparently have the time to constantly campaign, Congressman Hunter was re-elected to do a job, and his focus is on his responsibilities in Washington, D.C., and here in the 50th Congressional District.”
Talking about a race two years away is “a disservice to his constituents,” Harrison said. The 50th District, which stretches into Riverside County, is still heavily Republican in voter registration.
But San Diego Mesa College’s Carl Luna, a longtime political observer, said that with more resources and two years to build up party infrastructure in the 50th — and the likelihood of more corruption-related bad news for Hunter — the Democrats have their best chance in 40 years to capture that seat.
“It’s still a long shot,” Luna said Tuesday, “but not as long as before and sometimes you pile the chips on a number and spin the roulette wheel and you can win a jackpot.”
Hunter won a sixth term in November by defeating Democratic challenger Ammar Campa-Najjar by his slimmest re-election margin ever — 3.4 percentage points.
Rep. Bustos, in announcing the list of GOP targets, said: “Over the next 21 months, we are going to execute a focused strategy to expand our majority” and make sure it “lasts well into the future.”
Campa-Najjar, who spent $4 million on his first-ever campaign, has announced another run to be the first Latino Arab-American member of Congress.
In a memo, Bustos said that now that Republicans are in the House minority, the “survivors of 2018 are learning the hard way that they no longer hold the levers of power.”
She said 20 of the 33 seats the DCCC is targeting are held by an incumbent Republican who has never served in the minority before.“Political observers should pay close attention to vulnerable Republicans who decide it’s not worth the work to run for a seat they may lose just for the chance to continue living in the minority,” Bustos said.
“This point is underscored by GOP Rep. Tom Marino, who had never served in the minority, and went from taking the oath of office to resigning just 14 days into the 116th Congress.”
CNBC cites how Democrats in 2018 flipped every GOP-held seat in once-solidly Republican Orange County.
“The DCCC has a new goal in 2020 that many would consider out of reach: It wants to unseat six House Republicans in red Texas,” wrote CNBC’s Jacob Pramuk.
For his part, Hunter has been rolling out a series of legislative initiatives, including one last week called the “No Funding for Sanctuary Campuses Act.”
The bill seeks to withhold federal funding from any educational institution that “undermines federal immigration law and awards in-state tuition and other public benefits to students who are here illegally.”
Hunter introduced the same bill, then called H.R. 483, in January 2017. It was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce but went nowhere after that.
The list of DCCC targeted districts:
- AZ-06 — Dave Schweikert
- CA-22 — Devin Nunes
- CA-50 — Duncan Hunter
- CO-03 — Scott Tipton
- FL-15 — Ross Spano
- FL-18 — Brian Mast
- GA-07 — Rob Woodall
- IA-04 — Steve King
- IL-13 — Rodney Davis
- IN-05 – Susan Brooks
- KY-06 — Andy Barr
- MI-06 — Fred Upton
- MN-01 — Jim Hagedorn
- MO-02 — Ann Wagner
- NC-02 — George Holding
- NC-09 — OPEN
- NC-13 – Ted Budd
- NE-02 — Don Bacon
- NY-01 — Lee Zeldin
- NY-02 — Peter King
- NY-24 — John Katko
- NY-27 — Chris Collins
- OH-01 — Steve Chabot
- PA-01 — Brian Fitzpatrick
- PA-10 — Scott Perry
- PA-16 – Mike Kelly
- TX-10 — Mike McCaul
- TX-21 — Chip Roy
- TX-22 — Pete Olson
- TX-23 — Will Hurd
- TX-24 — Kenny Marchant
- TX-31 — John Carter
- WA-03 — Jaime Herrera Beutler
Updated at 10 a.m. Jan. 29, 2019
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