The campaign arm for Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives is spotlighting 47 seats currently held by members of Congress they consider to be “vulnerable Democrats” that they see as “prime pick-up opportunities” for the GOP in the 2022 midterm elections.
Among the Democrats on the list is Rep. Chris Pappas – the two-term lawmaker who represents New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District.
Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Indiana, the chair of the National Republican Campaign Committee, argued in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday that Pappas is “not a good candidate. He’s weak.”
Emmer pledged, “We are going to target people like Pappas because they are not strong candidates and because they’re going to have this radical left wing agenda hanging around them. It’s going to cost them at the ballot box.”
Pappas, who served three terms on New Hampshire’s Executive Council, was first elected to the House in 2018, succeeding retiring Rep. Carol Shea-Porter of Rochester, a fellow Democrat.
Pappas won re-election in 2020 by 5 points over GOP challenger Matt Mowers. That was down from Pappas’ 8-point victory in 2018 over Republican Eddie Edwards. Pappas slightly underperformed last November compared to President Joe Biden’s 6-point victory over Donald Trump in the district, which stretches from the Manchester area east to the Seacoast and then north to the Lakes Region and into the White Mountains.
Emmer, a four-term congressman from Minnesota, said his list of 47 Democrats includes “eight underperforming Democrats, these are weak incumbents who won by less than 10% and underperformed the presidential ballot margin in their district.”
Those eight include Pappas.
Longtime New Hampshire Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley fired back at the NRCC’s list.
“This is just another attempt by the NRCC to convince shady lobbyists and special interest swamp monsters to give them money for their overpaid staff and DC consultants, who know nothing about New Hampshire or our voters,” Buckley wrote in a statement to Seacoastonline.
Redistricting could be a factor
Pappas, whose family has owned and operated the famed Puritan Backroom restaurant in Manchester for more than a century, also faces a district that may be reshaped following the upcoming once-in-a-decade redistricting process.
With Republicans now enjoying majorities in the state House, Senate, and Executive Council – thanks major successes in November’s elections – as well as the governor’s office, the GOP will effectively control the redistricting process.
New Hampshire GOP chair Steve Stepanek told the rank and file at last month’s annual state party meeting that “I can stand here today and guarantee you that we will send a conservative Republican to Washington, D.C. as a congressperson in 2022.”
And Stepanek told Seacoastonline last week “elections have consequences” and “Republicans are controlling redistricting.”
Lucas Meyer, a longtime Pappas political adviser who steered the congressman’s 2020 re-election campaign, charged that “with the chair of the Republican Party openly chest thumping about corrupting our elections with a partisan gerrymander in NH-01, the only thing ‘weak’ is the Republican Party’s commitment to our democracy.”
Pappas filed 2022 paperwork soon after the November election, a common organizational step for politicians.
Meyer, the former president of the New Hampshire Young Democrats, emphasized that “Pappas has run in tough, Republican-leaning seats since his time on the Executive Council and he keeps winning because the people of our state know him and trust him. Since they can’t beat him fair and square, now they’re looking to corrupt the redistricting process in order to silence the voices of voters in the First Congressional District.”
Pappas stood at 43% approval and 38% disapproval among votes in the first district – with 18% having no opinion – according to a public opinion poll from the Saint Anselm College Survey Center released on Wednesday.
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