SPOTLIGHT

Making Town Halls Great Again

They are a significant part of House Democratic freshmen's reelection strategy.

Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., left, speaks with Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 3, 2019. House Democrats are rounding the first 100 days of their new majority taking stock of their accomplishments, noting the stumbles and marking their place as a frontline of resistance to President Donald Trump.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
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Ally Mutnick
April 24, 2019, 10:54 a.m.

Freshman Democrats are bringing back the town halls.

All but one of the 43 members who flipped GOP-held seats last November have held one or more open, public meetings in their first four months in office—more than 100 events in total. (The lone holdout is Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who plans to host one in May.)

In total, freshman Democrats now make up 15 percent of the House but have held more than 30 percent of all congressional town halls, according to data from the Town Hall Project. Less than 40 percent of the 432 members of Congress had hosted a town hall by mid-April, while nearly ever freshman Democrat has.

That's a stark contrast to the past cycle when many Republican incumbents began to shirk them, particularly as backlash mounted against the party's attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Democratic candidates seized on the dwindling numbers and ran on promises of transparency and accessibility.

Now, Democrats hope making good on that pledge will help fortify their newly won majority.

-- Ally Mutnick

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