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Three More Candidates Move Up to NRCC ‘Contender’ Status

Updated: 4:39 p.m.As it looks to keep the pressure on Reps. Vic Snyder (Ark.) and Travis Childers (Miss.), the National Republican Congressional Committee announced Wednesday that it is bumping the challengers running against the two Democrats up to the next rung of the committee’s recently retooled “Young Guns— campaign program.In Arkansas’ 2nd district, Little Rock attorney Tim Griffin (R) has impressed party officials enough with his early efforts to be added to the contender list. And in Mississippi’s 1st district, state Sen. Alan Nunnelee, who is hoping to knock off Childers, has now achieved the second level of the committee’s three-tier campaign and infrastructure program. The committee added him to the Young Guns program in late October.The NRCC is also adding former U.S. Attorney Pat Meehan (R) to the “Contender— list. Meehan is running for the open seat currently held by Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.).Young Guns is a fundraising and infrastructure system that was created last cycle that ranks candidates on three tiers: “On the Radar,— “Contender— and “Young Guns.— No candidate has yet achieved the program’s highest ranking. Besides Griffin, only 10 other Republican recruits have achieved Contender status.Griffin raised eyebrows in the campaign world when he raked in $130,000 for his campaign in less than two weeks before the Sept. 30 Federal Election Commission filing deadline. One GOP source said Wednesday that Griffin’s fourth-quarter haul was nearly double his third-quarter total.Meanwhile, Snyder, a seven-term Congressman who the NRCC targeted early in the 2010 cycle, is one Member who doesn’t raise money in the off year for his re-election effort.“Tim Griffin has already proven that he will be a formidable candidate by meeting the Young Guns program’s rigorous goals and is well on his way to building a winning campaign to put this seat back in the Republican column,— NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) said Wednesday. “Tim is part of a strong and growing candidate pool of everyday Americans who are frustrated with the majority’s big-government ways and aren’t willing to stand idly by any longer.—Nunnelee has also proven to be a solid fundraiser and has earned a campaign contribution from Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) and the endorsement of Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas who sought the 2008 Republican presidential nomination and is considered a possible 2012 White House contender.Still, Nunnelee may not have the primary field to himself. Former Eupora Mayor Henry Ross has said he will enter the race, which could drain GOP resources and divert focus away from the general election.

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