Dems Building List of Political Novices to Help Regain House in 2018

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May 23, 2017

The Democratic Party is creating a list of political novices to emerge in 2018 to challenge Republicans in traditionally conservative districts that supported Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump.

Democratic officials on Monday shared a collection of names with the Washington Examiner that they hope will help build a new House majority.

The list includes political newcomers who have worked in business, medicine, philanthropy, and the military.

Democrats hope the progressive wing of the party that supported Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) will tolerate more moderate nominees that can appeal to Republican voters who are dissatisfied with President Trump but also uneasy about making Nancy Pelosi the speaker of the House again.

"The progressive base will be fine with it," a Democratic operative told the Examiner. "The question is, what the Bernie base will do. Most will be with their fellow progressives and liberals. But they vocal nihilists will get disproportionate attention from the media."

Democrats need to win 24 seats to regain a majority in the House. They are currently targeting 23 Republican-held districts won by Clinton, plus other swing districts where Trump was successful.

According to the Examiner, the list of potential candidates includes:

Vietnamese physician Mai-Khanh Tran, poised to challenge House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R., Calif.), in an Orange County district that voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton over Trump; and attorney and Army combat veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq Jason Crow, who is running against Rep. Mike Coffman (R., Colo.), a Marine veteran, in a suburban Denver district that Hillary Clinton won.

The Democratic Party has others on its radar, the Examiner noted.

Bryan Caforio, an attorney and the 2016 nominee running again for the nomination to challenge Rep. Steve Knight (R., Calif.); businessman Harley Rouda, running for the nomination to challenge Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R., Calif.); businessman and philanthropist Dean Phillips, running to challenge Rep. Erik Paulsen (R., Minn.); and nonprofit executive and Air Force veteran Chrissy Houlahan, running to challenge Rep. Ryan Costello (R., Pa.).

Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder of Kansas' third congressional district may have a Democrat declare their candidacy this week. Clinton won the district by 1.2 percentage points in 2016.

The Democratic Party hopes the opposition to Trump will be similar to the opposition to George W. Bush and the Iraq war in 2006, when Democrats retook both houses of Congress.

"These candidates should be prepared to embrace key issues in the Democratic platform such as support for public education, affordable health care, immigration reform, and reproductive rights," said Democratic strategist Ed Espinoza, who cautioned that there are no guarantees for any of the party's recruits.

"They still need to win a primary and convince general election voters that they are better candidates than incumbent Republicans," he said.