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NRCC Adds to Patriot List

House Republicans will add 10 Members to their incumbent protection program today, reinforcing colleagues who anticipate tough races next year.

The National Republican Congressional Committee doubled the size of the Patriot program this week as part of its preparations to defend the party’s majority in 2012, according to the new roster of Members obtained exclusively by Roll Call.

The NRCC added nine freshmen and one veteran Member to the incumbent protection program. It’s also the NRCC’s way of showcasing Members who have met certain campaign benchmarks for their re-election races.

The committee added freshman Reps. Jeff Denham (Calif.), Bobby Schilling (Ill.), Robert Dold (Ill.), Michael Grimm (N.Y.), Jon Runyan (N.J.), Bill Johnson (Ohio), Jim Renacci (Ohio), Bob Gibbs (Ohio) and Scott Rigell (Va.).

The NRCC also added Rep. Judy Biggert, a seven-term lawmaker from Illinois.

House GOP leaders will host a second Patriot Day fundraising event on Sept. 22 to boost the coffers of these Members. The committee boasted raising $1.5 million for the Patriot program’s initial inductees at a similar event in June.

“Patriot Members have demonstrated the leadership and ability to wage aggressive campaigns based on rigorous goals and proven strategies for victory,” NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) said in statement. “I’m very proud of these Patriot Members who are leading the fight for victory in 2012.”

Three of the new Patriot program members hail from Illinois, where Democrats aggressively redrew the Congressional map earlier this year. As a result, Biggert, Dold and Schilling face re-election in new and difficult districts.

Three freshman Ohio Members — Johnson, Renacci and Gibbs — will also have tough races. The Buckeye State is losing two seats, and local Republicans have speculated that two GOP Members will likely be drawn into the same district under the new map.

The new district lines for three of the  remaining Members — Grimm, Runyan and Rigell — are not complete, but they all hail from competitive territory. That makes them prime Democratic targets in 2012.

House Republicans say the program is their version of tough love for incumbents. Participants in the program must meet certain benchmarks mandated by the committee — including campaign operation, fundraising, communications and grass-roots organization — in order to receive help for their races next year.

Earlier this summer, the NRCC announced the first 10 inductees into the program: Reps. Tom Latham (Iowa), Allen West (Fla.), Sean Duffy (Wis.), Patrick Meehan (Pa.), Lou Barletta (Pa.), Mike Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Charles Bass (N.H.), Frank Guinta (N.H.), Francisco “Quico” Canseco (Texas) and Joe Heck (Nev.).

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