- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 12, 2019

A group of moderate Republicans is beginning to build a “farm team” to help the GOP recapture the House from Democrats in 2022.

The Republican Main Street Partnership, which bills itself as “the governing wing of the Republican Party,” counts 55 members of Congress in its ranks, and it is in the early stages of charting the GOP’s way back to the majority in the House.

Republican Main Street Partnership CEO Sarah Chamberlain said her team is focused in 2020 on protecting vulnerable House Republicans while flipping a handful of seats that Democrats added in the 2018 midterms.

Ms. Chamberlain said she thinks Republicans could pick up two to three seats next year, but likely not gain more than five, meaning the House looks to be out of reach until 2022.

“We’ve never really built a farm team, Main Street now is trying to really build a farm team,” she said in an interview. “We need a farm team and that is our big push. And that’s why our really big push with focusing on 2022 — hold what we have, try to add a few, and then really go all out in 2022.”

Ms. Chamberlain said the GOP is facing a “crisis” with suburban voters, particularly women who are “not opposed to anything [Trump is] doing, they’re just opposed to how he’s doing it.”

Next week, the group is hosting its first-ever candidate school with seven candidates for House seats set to gather in private in Washington.

Ms. Chamberlain said the attendees will learn about how to reach suburbanites with their message, how to attract support from union members, and how to build an effective ground game.

“A Main Street-type Republican lives in a little bit different district, has to have a little bit different rhetoric, and we need to go and teach them that because that’s not something that they’re getting,” Ms. Chamberlain said. “Not that the [National Republican Congressional Committee] isn’t doing that, but they’re focused on the big picture, we’re focused on our niche.”

Conservative advocacy groups, such as the free-market boosters at the Club for Growth, do not support Ms. Chamberlain’s approach. Club for Growth President David McIntosh, a former GOP congressman from Indiana, said in a statement that Republicans lose “when they abandon pro-growth policies to become warmed-over, moderate Democrats.”

“Being a Republican in name only is a proven path to defeat, and acting like Democrats is not a winning strategy for Republicans,” he said. “The key to winning any election is talking about issues that voters care about, and that’s not different with suburban voters.”

The politics of impeachment has the potential to scramble the 2020 race, and Ms. Chamberlain said she is telling her members and prospective candidates to adopt a “wait-and-see” approach toward the upcoming hearings.

Ms. Chamberlain said her group is springing into action now to ensure Republicans down-ticket are ready if the impeachment proceedings send things “way off the rails.”

“Main Street, we really are the majority makers,” Ms. Chamberlain said. “I know some of the conservatives hate that, but it is the truth.”

Among the House seats the Republican Main Street Partnership is looking to capture are competitive races in California’s 50th congressional district, Iowa’s 3rd congressional district, Kansas’ 3rd congressional district, and New Jersey’s 3rd congressional district among several others.

In the Senate, the group will be working in support of the reelections of Sens. Susan Collins, Maine Republican, and Martha McSally, Arizona Republican.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee did not respond to request for comment on the Republican Main Street Partnership’s plan to recapture Congress.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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