With the filing deadlines now passed in every state except Delaware, House Republicans appear to be on course to have more candidates on fall general election ballots than ever before.
Republicans have found candidates to run in 430 of 435 districts this fall, a total that tops the party’s previous high of 427, which was set in 1996.
Meanwhile, Democrats are not fielding challengers against more than 20 House Republicans this cycle, which means the GOP appears to have more candidates on the ballot than Democrats for only the seventh time since 1920.
The last time House Republicans had more candidates on the ballot was in 2004, when the GOP put up 409 candidates to the Democrats’ 396.
In 2006, there were 422 Democrats on the ballot compared with 388 Republicans. Last cycle, House Democrats put up 420 candidates to Republicans’ 392.
But House Democrats will still hold the record for most candidates on a general election ballot. In 1958 and 1964 the party fielded 434 candidates.
National Republican Congressional Committee officials are calling this year’s candidate milestone another a sign of a favorable political environment and giving credit to the committee’s recruitment efforts.
“We’ve expanded the playing field more than ever before,” NRCC Recruitment Chairman Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) said Wednesday. “When you get more candidates, that means you’ve been in more districts, your message is going further, you’re challenging the failed message of the Democrats across the country in almost every single seat.”
McCarthy said the committee had a goal of having a candidate run in every district this cycle. And while the NRCC failed to find a candidate to run in Washington’s 7th district, Pennsylvania’s 1st district, Massachusetts’ 8th district, Florida’s 17th district and New York’s 12th district, McCarthy said the 430 number proves how serious the GOP is about taking back control of the House.
He said that getting more than 420 candidates was the “magic number” when it comes to flipping the House. In 1994, Republicans fielded 421 House candidates when they took over the House. When Democrats took over the House in 1948, they fielded 426 candidates.
But certainly not all candidates are created equal, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee dismissed the idea that the number of districts where Republicans have candidates running is significant.
“The NRCC and Kevin McCarthy are nuts if they think 430 seats are in play. In McCarthyland, [John] Boehner, and [Eric] Cantor’s seats are also in play then since there are Democrats running,” DCCC spokesman Ryan Rudominer said. “Unlike the NRCC, the DCCC is strategic in the seats it targets. With all the bluster and all the promises the NRCC has made, the bottom line is that they now face some tough decisions about which of their many hyped candidates with anemic fundraising have disqualified themselves as viable candidates and have to be abandoned.”
The GOP’s 430 candidates this cycle include 178 current GOP Members as well as recruits of widely varying degrees of strength.
That includes recruits such as Arkansas attorney Tim Griffin, a well-known, well-funded candidate with a good chance of flipping the Democratic-held, Little Rock-based 2nd district this fall. But it also includes scores of Republicans who will face Democratic incumbents who are certain to be re-elected.
Republican Gerald Hashimoto, a candy maker who is challenging Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), has yet to report any money raised to the Federal Election Commission. Since winning a special election in 1998, Lee has never been re-elected with less than 81 percent of the vote in an overwhelmingly Democratic district.