GAITHERSBURG, Md. - Thanks for your service, and good luck.
That's what the national parties are saying to congressional
veterans such as Roscoe Bartlett, the Maryland Republican whose
district was redrawn by Democrats to include liberal-leaning
communities near the capital Beltway. National Republicans have all
but abandoned his bid for an 11th House term. Bartlett, 86, is not
giving up. He says he's the most environmentally conscious
Republican in Congress.
"That's not a very steep hill to climb," Bartlett said in a
recent interview, acknowledging his party's record on environmental
issues. "But I'm the greenest Republican, so I have a lot of
characteristics that recommend me to these people."
Both parties have officeholders they've effectively thrown
overboard, but not as many as in 2010.
Republican and Democratic strategists point to three House
campaigns where the parties clearly have declined to make
independent expenditures for an incumbent in trouble - Bartlett,
fellow Republican David Rivera in Florida and Democrat Larry Kissell
in North Carolina.
National Republican officials who control millions of party
dollars also have abandoned GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin, an 11-
year House veteran thought to have a decent shot at unseating
Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill until his remarks in August about
In a few other cases, the distance between party leaders and the
candidate is less clear but perceptible, as the party committees
scale back their spending in some districts or decline to match the
resources that the other party is throwing into the race. It's a
phenomenon that happens to some degree in every election, but this
year it's been driven in part by once-a-decade redistricting and the
occasional political scandal.
Because incumbents are generally the last group of candidates the
national campaign committees abandon, being a member of this tiny
caucus of the rejected carries particular sting. Democrats need to
gain 25 seats to retake the House majority, an uphill battle they're
not expected to win. Republicans say that is why Democrats are
dumping so few incumbents.
"The sign that there's not going to be big swings is that
Democrats are defending their own," said Paul Lindsay, spokesman for
the National Republican Congressional Committee. "For every one of
those losses, they have to find a win somewhere else. And the map is
not big enough for them."
Democratic officials scoffed, pointing to the Republicans'
shifting support away from Tea Party candidates such as Bartlett and
New Hampshire freshman Rep. Frank Guinta, who is facing a difficult
rematch against Democrat Carol Shea-Porter. Two years ago, Shea-
Porter was one of the incumbents that Democrats threw overboard.
Republicans have supported Guinta this year, but not in the last two
weeks, federal fundraising records show.
"Republicans have a funny way of showing they're protecting the
Tea Party majority when they're giving up on their own members,"
said Jesse Ferguson, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional
Officials at the NRCC noted that total spending when all outside
groups are included favors the Republican candidate, giving the NRCC
flexibility to put resources elsewhere. …