"In the 116th Congress, if you’re a Democrat, you’re either a socialist, a baby killer or an anti-Semite. That, at least, is what Republicans want voters to think, as they seek to demonize Democrats well in advance of the 2020 elections by painting them as left-wing crazies who will destroy the American economy, murder newborn babies and turn a blind eye to bigotry against Jews. The unusually aggressive assault, which Republican officials and strategists outlined in interviews last week, is meant to strangle the new Democratic majority in its infancy. It was set in motion this month by President Trump, who used his State of the Union address."
“'Socialism is the greatest vulnerability by far that the House Democrats have," NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer "said in an interview, adding that he had also instructed his team to spotlight 'all the extreme wild ideas' that Democrats espouse, 'on a daily basis, on an hourly basis if it’s available.'"
The Congressional Leadership Fund "began running digital ads last week that link two freshmen who flipped Republican districts ... to" Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY 14). "The spots are the first in what will be a national campaign, according to Zach Hunter, a spokesman for the fund." (New York Times)
RECRUITMENT WATCH. "Local GOP leaders conducted an autopsy of the election that sent 11-term" Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX 32) "packing. The results, they say, were clear. The party needs a new face who can revive the GOP’s appeal with moderates." To that end, Texas Republicans are trying to recruit Dallas County GOP Chairwoman Missy Shorey and businessman George Seay, "who served as a finance chair for former Gov. Rick Perry’s 2016 presidential campaign." (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
"A glaring anomaly among the targets released last month by the" DCCC was IN-05, "an affluent suburban seat that has been completely off the political radar. Even more puzzling is that it’s represented by the well-liked, well-respected" Rep. Susan Brooks (R), who chairs recruitment for the NRCC. "One Democrat mentioned as a possible strong challenger by observers in both parties was 2016 lieutenant governor nominee Christina Hale, who told National Journal she was 'not ready to comment just now.' One Democrat who has worked in the state said others have been trying to get her to enter the race and that she could clear the primary field if she ran." (Hotline reporting)
RETIREMENT WATCH. The DCCC released its retirement watch list Monday morning, highlighting 19 Republican incumbents who could make this term their last. One Rep. Rob Woodall (GA-07) announced his retirement this month. The others: Reps. Don Young (AK-AL), the dean of the House; David Schweikert (AZ-06), who is under an ethics investigation; Duncan Hunter (CA-50), who is under federal indictment; Ross Spano (FL-15), who is in his first term; Vern Buchanan (FL-16), Susan Brooks (IN-05); Fred Upton (MI-06); Ann Wagner (MO-02); Chris Smith (NJ-04); Peter King (NY-02); John Katko (NY-24); Chris Collins (NY-27), who is under federal indictment; Steve Chabot (OH-01); Mike McCaul (TX-10); Pete Olson (TX-22); Kenny Marchant (TX-24); John Carter (TX-31); and Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03). (release)
FOLLOW THE MONEY. Speaker Nancy Pelosi will travel to Laredo, Texas on Friday to raise money for the DCCC. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX 28) will co-headline the event. (Texas Tribune)
BORDER WALL POLITICS. Some vulnerable Republicans are speaking out against President Trump's declaration of a national emergency, including the only Republican to represent the southern border.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03) “denounced President Trump’s declaration ... in order to obtain funding for his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border,” calling it a dangerous precedent.
Herrera Beutler: “If President Obama had ever hinted at using emergency powers in this way, I would have spoken out strongly against it, and consistency demands that I do the same now.” (Longview Daily News)
Rep. Will Hurd (TX-23), "the sole Republican representing a congressional district along the southern border, said more than 1,000 farmers in his state are at risk of having their land seized by the federal government to facilitate the construction of President Trump's long-promised wall. … But Hurd said the strategy will surely be resisted by some landowners and force the government into a prolonged legal battle.”
Hurd: "In the great state of Texas, we care about a little thing called private property.” (CBS News)