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Republicans identify vulnerable members for 2018

The National Republican Congressional Committee named 10 members to its Patriot Program for incumbents who are expected to face tough re-elections in 2018. 

“Our Patriots are a group of battle-tested members who won hard fought races in 2016 and are ready to win once again,” NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers said in a statement Wednesday. 

“The NRCC stands squarely behind each of them and will work tirelessly on their behalf to ensure their important voices continue to represent their constituents,” Stivers said. 

Patriot status usually comes with fundraising and organizational assistance. Stivers is a previous chair of the program, which is now helmed by Pennsylvania Rep. Ryan Costello. 

This cycle’s initial Patriots include five members elected in 2016, three members of the class of 2014, one member of the class of 2012, and one long-term congressman, California Rep. Darrell Issa, who had a closer than expected re-election last fall and is already facing a rematch from his 2016 Democratic challenger. All 10 members are on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s initial target list. 

Here’s the full list: 

California Rep. David Valadao: Elected in 2012, Valadao represents a seat that’s 74 percent Hispanic. Hillary Clinton won the 21st District by 15 points, while the three-term congressman won it by 16 points. 

California Rep. Steve Knight: The two-term congressman represents a district that’s nearly 40 percent Hispanic. Clinton won this seat by about 7 points, while Knight won re-election by 8 points. 

California Rep. Darrell Issa: The nine-term member became a late target of Democrats last cycle, and he barely prevailed. The Associated Press didn’t call the election in his favor until three weeks after Election Day. Clinton carried this district by about 8 points. 

Florida Rep. Brian Mast: A freshman, Mast won the toss-up 18th District by 11 points, defeating a flawed Democratic candidate. Donald Trump won this district by 9 points. 

Minnesota Rep. Jason Lewis: The former radio talk show host and first-time candidate, who didn’t start out the primary with much establishment support, narrowly won by 2 points last fall. Trump barely won here. 

New York Rep. John Faso: A freshman, Faso won the seat held by moderate former Republican Chris Gibson. He defeated progressive Democrat Zephyr Teachout by 9 points, while Trump won by 7 points. 

New York Rep. Claudia Tenney: Another Empire State freshman, Tenney won the seat held by the man she once challenged in a primary, former GOP Rep. Richard Hanna — the only Republican member who endorsed Clinton. But Trump did well here, winning by 16 points. Tenney won by slimmer 7-point margin. 

Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick: The freshman won the suburban Philadelphia seat formerly held by his brother by 9 points. Trump won it by less than a point. 

Texas Rep. Will Hurd: The two-term Republican won a rematch with his Democratic predecessor by less than two points. But Clinton won this district by 3 points, and Hurd has already distanced himself from Trump in this 68 percent Hispanic district by coming out against the border wall with Mexico. 

Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock: The two-term Republican won re-election last fall by 6 points, but she represents an affluent and highly-educated suburban district that Clinton won. She’s already broken with Trump on his government hiring freeze.

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