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Reynolds Still Bullish on Races

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) is upbeat about his party’s 2006 election prospects, saying Friday that Republicans are better positioned politically, financially and numerically, for success in next year’s midterms than the Democrats.

In a briefing with reporters, Reynolds dismissed House Democrats as rudderless, and said they lack the money, ideas and number of vulnerable Republican seats required to mount a takeover of the House.

“There are no similarities to 1994; they are apples to oranges,” Reynolds said. “I am optimistic about next November.”

Despite voters’ anxiety over high gas prices and the Iraq war, and ethics scandals involving multiple Republicans, including former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), Reynolds said his caucus continues to outflank Democrats on fundraising, an agenda that appeals to voters, and candidate strength.

The Republican strategy: Focus on the ground game, while tailoring the strategy of each campaign to the unique political dynamics that exist in individual House districts.

“We are committed to building races from the ground up, versus a national air war,” Reynolds said. “I have said to my colleagues that we will hold the majority; the size of it depends on us.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said Republicans are obviously more concerned than they’re admitting, and rightly so.

“They are the ones talking about ’94,” not us, said DCCC spokeswoman Sarah Feinberg. “Republicans are scared … and are always going to be able to find numbers to make them feel good about the election. But 13 months out, the American public believes Congress is out of touch with their priorities.”

In a memo Reynolds distributed to his caucus last week and made available to reporters, the NRCC chairman seeks to dispel the conventional wisdom on midterm elections while offering evidence of why a repeat of 1994 is unlikely, if not impossible.

Democrats “not only have to defend all 11 of their most vulnerable seats, but also win 15 of the 16 competitive seats held by Republicans. To win back the majority, Democrats must win an astonishing 96 percent of competitive House races,” Reynolds wrote.

“Since the implementation of the 2000 redistricting maps, Democrats have never won more than 50 percent of the competitive races.”

Democrats need to win 15 seats to take back control of the House for the first time since 1994.

In a counter-memo prepared for the press by the DCCC Friday, Democrats argued that Republicans are in trouble for, among other reasons:

• DeLay’s indictment, which they said will become an issue in House districts throughout the country.

“‘Tom DeLay’ has now become a household name,” the memo read.

• The NRCC has failed to recruit quality candidates (a charge the NRCC vehemently denies). The DCCC cites 13 Republican recruitment failures.

• National polls show Americans are unhappy with Republicans and the direction in which they are leading the country.

“Despite the NRCC’s best efforts at spin, the American people are increasingly unhappy with the performance of the Republican Congress and view Republican incumbents as out-of-touch with the people they represent,” the memo read.