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More than a dozen former Obama aides are leading the charge to flip the House

The Democratic groundswell continues to grow for this year’s crucial midterm elections. With forecasters suggesting a “wave” election cycle is looming for Democrats as the historically unpopular Donald Trump weighs the GOP down, a whole new generation of Democratic candidates is emerging. That swarm now includes a pack of former aides and officials who served […]

By Eric Boehlert - January 03, 2018
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Democrat Sara Jacobs, running against GOP Rep. Darrell Issa

The Democratic groundswell continues to grow for this year’s crucial midterm elections. With forecasters suggesting a “wave” election cycle is looming for Democrats as the historically unpopular Donald Trump weighs the GOP down, a whole new generation of Democratic candidates is emerging.

That swarm now includes a pack of former aides and officials who served President Barack Obama. According to the Wall Street Journal, more than one dozen of them are running for Congress, and doing so for the first time.

“We’re in the middle of a civic reawakening right now and that opportunity means that we need to reopen the barn doors,” says Brian Forde, a former White House technology adviser.

Sara Jacobs, a former State Department employee, is running against California Rep. Darrell Issa, who won his traditionally red district by just one point in 2016.

“I was actually looking to work on someone’s campaign but didn’t find anyone who spoke to me,” Jacobs said. “I decided the way that I would have other options was if I made them.”

A sample of the Obama-related candidates, from the Journal:

Former Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Elissa Slotkin is challenging GOP Rep. Mike Bishop while living on her family’s farm in Michigan. And two former Obama administration alumni are taking on Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions—Colin Allred, who worked in Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of General Counsel and Ed Meier, who worked in the State Department focused on military-to-civilian transition in Iraq.

Being associated with Obama will likely be a plus for most of the newcomer candidates, as the former president remains widely popular, especially compared to the historically unpopular, and widely disliked, Trump.

In fact, Trump just became the first new president in the last 70 years not to be selected as the country’s most admired man in the long-running Gallup survey. Obama beat him out for that honor in 2017.

Meanwhile, Trump’s aggregate approval rating of 39 percent is 10.5 percent below where Obama was at this point in his presidency. And instead of benefiting from a booming economy at the time, Obama was trying to rescue the collapsing U.S. economy in 2009.

Just 3 in 10 Americans believe the U.S. is headed in the right direction under Trump, according to a recent Associated Press poll.

That disdain for Trump isn’t just inspiring former Obama officials to run for office.

According to Federal Elections Commission filings, Democrats are poised to oppose every Republican in the House, minus just 20 seats. “By comparison, Democrats in 80 districts do not have a Republican opponent for their seat,” The New York Times reports.

The enthusiasm is contagious. Texas Rep. Pete Sessions won re-election unopposed by a Democratic candidate in 2016. This year he already has 10 Democratic opponents who want to end his congressional career.

Democrats need to flip 24 seats to take control of the House. The Cook Political Report currently rates 63 GOP-held seats as being competitive in November. By comparison, just 21 Democrats seats are deemed to be competitive, the rest are safe.

That map will give former Obama aides plenty of electoral opportunities in 2018.


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