The National Republican Congressional Committee is unveiling today its "Vanguard" program, a new component of the "Young Guns" program for candidates.
The program is designed to highlight Republican nominees in open seats that are all but certain to remain in GOP hands this fall. It will provide a framework for the NRCC to assist the candidates and help foster a relationship between the campaigns and the committee as well as with the House Republican Conference members they will be working with.
The seven candidates the NRCC is initially spotlighting are now nominees, many of whom survived competitive primaries. All seven are men, but an official said that there may be a woman or two added later in the cycle.
The GOP candidates include Steve Womack, who hopes to replace Arkansas Senate candidate Rep. John Boozman; Indiana state Sen. Marlin Stutzman, a Tea Party favorite who wants to succeed Republican Rep. Mark Souder; Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita, who is running to fill the seat of Republican Rep. Steve Buyer; and California state Sen. Jeff Denham, who is running to replace Republican Rep. George Radanovich.
There are another three from South Carolina, two of whom made it through runoffs to get their nominations: African-American state Rep. Tim Scott, who is running to succeed Republican Rep. Henry Brown, and Trey Gowdy, the Spartanburg County solicitor who ousted Republican Rep. Bob Inglis in a runoff last month. State Rep. Jeff Duncan is running to replace Republican Rep. Gresham Barrett.
"Candidates in the Vanguard program will receive our full support and are critical to re-taking the majority this fall," said House Republican Whip Cantor. Cantor and other GOP leaders will take part in an NRCC event this September to highlight the candidates.
As the GOP looks to forge a majority and a new governing coalition in the next few years, these candidates will be at the forefront, said an NRCC spokesman.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Ryan Rudominer questioned why the program focused on non-competitive races.
"If the NRCC spent half as much time vetting its candidates in races that are actually competitive as it does creating new programs, maybe there would not be such a growing chorus questioning its political competence," he said.
Although Minority Leader Boehner may get involved in helping the candidates figure out early what committees they would like to serve on, the main function of the program is to introduce them to the Conference and raise more money so they can win with large margins.
"Seven open seats we're almost assured of winning is hard to come by in any cycle," said the NRCC official. "That's diverse in itself, because these seats don't just come falling out of the sky."
This article appears in the July 10, 2010, edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.